Glenanne Gang families publish open letter appealing to police chief to “do the right thing”

December 11, 2017

The families of victims of the notorious Glenanne Gang have published an open letter appealing to chief constable George Hamilton to do “the right thing” and abide by a recent High Court ruling to order an independent investigation into the murders carried out by the loyalist paramilitary killers.

Last month, Mr Justice Treacy issued an “Order of Mandamus” compelling the police to follow the order of the court and complete the probe into the loyalist unit which was responsible for up to 120 murders in nearly 90 incidents in the Mid Ulster and Irish border areas.  Setting out his ruling at the time, the High Court judge said, “The very sad and inescapable fact is that while these debates rage at huge public expense the victims’ families languish with no end in sight.”

The November order followed a landmark ruling in July this year that found police had unlawfully frustrated any chance of a full and effective investigation into suspected state collusion with the Glenanne Gang.

The gang were behind the murders of the Reavey brothers in Whitecross in January 1976 and the bombing of Donnelly’s Bar in Silverbridge which killed three people, one of which was a 14 year old boy. It has also been linked to the murder of 33 people, including a pregnant woman, in the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings. 

The loyalist murder gang operated from a farm in Glenanne and contained members of the RUC and the UDR.

In a two page open letter published through the Pat Finucane Centre on Friday, the victims’ families have demanded that the PSNI “find an independent body acceptable to us to finish the work on collusion and the ‘Glenanne Gang’ – or continue fighting an ultimately self-defeating rearguard action against us, the bereaved families, and the truth.”

“We have lost our fathers and mothers, our wives, our husbands, our sons, our daughters, our brothers, our sisters and – in two cases – children as yet unborn to our close relatives.

“How much better would it be – for the families and for all of us living here – if instead of fighting every inch of the way, you released that information for us all to see and learn from.”

The letter goes on to outline that further appeals by the PSNI will not be successful and adds,

“It’s your choice, Chief Constable.  Appeal and delay – or comply with the court’s ruling.

“How many more of us will be dead by the time your force finally does the right thing?

“You can, of course, choose to fight on and lose – lose public confidence, public money and the case. Or accept that your management team were wrong to suppress the report.”

Commenting on the open letter, Paul O’Connor of the Pat Finucane Centre said,

“Sunday is international human rights day and the fundamental rights of these families have been denied them for years, the chief constable should do the right thing, this is solvable, this is doable.

“We make the point that the legal advice is that an appeal by the chief constable would not be successful, but it will be successful in denying justice to some very elderly victims.”