Court ruling on Glenanne Gang collusion killings welcomed
Friday’s High Court judgement by Justice Seamus Treacy that police had unlawfully frustrated any chance of a full and effective investigation into suspected state collusion with the notorious Glenanne Gang has been welcomed by local political representatives and victims campaigners.
SDLP MLA Justin McNulty, who joined the families in the Belfast High Court for the ruling, said Judge Treacy’s ruling that there was a violation of the Families’ Article 2 Rights in terms of how the murders relating to the Glenanne Gang were investigated had revealed “collusion in its rawest form, both in the past and right up to the present day.”
“Those who were responsible for upholding law and order failed in their duty,” said Mr McNulty.
“They colluded with the Glenanne gang in the 1970’s in the murder of 135 people in the ‘murder triangle’. They have sought to prevent justice up in the present day. The victims’ families have fought tooth and nail to get truth and justice and are indebted to the work of Darragh Mackin and Peter Corrigan from Kevin Winters Law Firm.’
‘This community has suffered terrible pain, inflicted by the state and by paramilitary organisations. Many families are crying out for justice, and have been forced to turn to the courts just to get to the truth of what happened to their loved ones. This is scandalous.’
The SDLP Assembly Member congratulated the Barnard Family, Eugene Reavey and his family “and all the other families who have shown unbelievable determination to make this day happen. Whatever the families decide to do from here I support them fully.” He added that Eugene Reavey, whose three brothers were shot and killed by the UVF gang at their Whitecross home in 1976, wished to put on record his gratitude for the support of former Deputy First Minister Séamus Mallon and former SDLP MLA Dominic Bradley over the last 40 years.
Sinn Féin MLA for Newry & Armagh, Cathal Boylan, said Judge Treacy’s ruling “confirms what families and others have known for decades – that there was collusion between the British state and the loyalist murder gang which was made up of serving RUC, UDR, British army personnel and loyalists.”
“The Glenanne gang was responsible for more than 100 murders, mostly of nationalist civilians, in Armagh and Tyrone, as well as being involved in the Dublin and Monaghan bombings,” explained Mr Boylan.
“The British state has continually sought to deny and delay the truth about the role of its armed forces in running murder gangs during the conflict.
“This continuous refusal to take responsibility for its actions is unacceptable and adds to the pain and suffering of the victims.”
The Sinn Fein MLA said the judge had placed an onus on the PSNI to return to the courts in two week’s time to offer an ‘appropriate form of relief’ that would address the family’s concerns.
“I am calling on the PSNI to comply with the judgement and provide the necessary resources so that the families can get access to truth and justice.”
Author, Anne Cadwallader, whose Lethal Allies book investigated collusion between the Glenanne gang and the security forces, said the families were “overwhelmed” by the ruling but added that “it is also tinged with sadness because people are thinking of their loved ones and those who never lived to see this day.”
In a joint statement issued through the Pat Finucane Centre the families of the gang’s victims said they have “yet to receive any acknowledgement, let alone apology, from the British government for its role in the murder of their loved-ones”.
SDLP councillor Denise Mullen, whose father Denis was murdered in the family home in Moy in September 1975, said while she welcomed the ruling, it signalled the start of “yet another lengthy process” for the victims’ families.
Ms Mullen said the families had gone past seeking convictions but added that she wanted answers as to who ordered and protected those responsible for her father’s murder.
“It has taken us five years to get where we are. Many of the families don’t have another five years,” she said.
“We need an independent and thorough investigation and we need it now, not for this not to be kicked down the road yet again.”
PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton, who is responsible for the service’s Legacy & Justice Branch, said police would consider the judgment “carefully” when it is published in full in the coming weeks.