Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly has said that a report by the Police Ombudsman into the killings of 19 people in the north of Ulster is further damning evidence of a policy of British state collusion with loyalist paramilitaries during the conflict.
Gerry Kelly was speaking after the Police Ombudsman Marie Anderson published the findings of her investigation ‘Operation Greenwich’ into 19 loyalist killings and two attempted murders carried out by the loyalist UDA.
Sinn Féin Policing Board Member, Gerry Kelly said:
“I welcome the publication of this long-awaited report. My first thoughts are with the families and the loved ones of the victims of the killings investigated by the Police Ombudsman.
“Many of them suspected that British state forces had been working with the loyalist gangs who killed their loved ones. However, the sheer scale of collusion between the British state and the loyalist paramilitaries has come as a shock.
“The Ombudsman’s investigation shows that collusion between British state forcesand the UDA’s north west Brigade was systemic. It claimed the lives of 19 people, including Sinn Féin elected representatives and election workers.
“The report shows that the British state assisted in importing South African weapons which were used in at least ten of the killings. Some of these weapons were given to the UDA by Ulster Resistance, a group established by senior members of the DUP leadership.
• State agents and informers working inside the UDA were directly involved in a number of killings and were allowed to continue to kill.
• The RUC knew that members of the UDR were directly involved in killings but allowed them to remain in the British army.
• Information was passed on to the murder gangs by RUC and UDR personnel, some of whom attended high level briefings despite the fact the RUC were aware they were passing information on to the loyalist gangs.
• The RUC failed to warn some victims that they were aware of threats to their lives.
• No action was taken about the failure of state agents to pass on intelligence about murders to their RUC Special Branch handlers and they were allowed to continue their activities unimpeded.
• RUC files on the activities of agents and informers involved in the killings were destroyed to prevent proper investigation of their role.
“This is only the latest in a series of damning reports carried out into state collusion with loyalist paramilitaries, in north and west Belfast, South Down, County Armagh and the importation of the South African arms shipment in 1988 which re-armed loyalist paramilitaries.
“This report provides further evidence why the current British government is proposing an amnesty for its state forces, an end to investigations and preventing victims from accessing the courts and due process.
“The amnesty proposals have been rightly rejected by all the political parties, by the Irish government and by international human rights bodies.
“There is a pressing need to address the legacy of the past and that needs to be done by implementing the legacy mechanisms of the Stormont House Agreement in a human rights compliant manner.
“The families of the victims of these killings investigated by the Ombudsman, like all bereaved in the conflict, are entitled to know the truth about the deaths of their loved ones and should not have to wait any longer for truth and justice.”