Sinn Féin Leas-Uachtarán Michelle O’Neill has said the Police Ombudsman’s report into 27 loyalist murders and attempted murders in south Belfast between 1990 and 1998 is truly shocking.
And she said that the report coming on the back of previous reports into loyalist killings in South Down and the north West is further evidence of a systematic policy of collusion between state forces and loyalist death squads.
Michelle O’Neill said:
“My heart goes out to the families of the eleven people murdered, including a 15-year-old boy, and all those injured as a result of collusion between the British state and the UDA.
“My thoughts are with them today as they try to come to terms with the revelations in the Police Ombudsman’s report into the deaths of their loved ones at the hands of loyalist murder gangs.
“This follows previous reports into mass loyalist killings in Loughinisland and Greysteel, carried out with weapons British state agents helped to import and distribute to the UDA, UVF and Ulster Resistance. Eighty people were killed with these weapons, the Ombudsman has revealed that those responsible for bringing them in have never been investigated despite the involvement of state agents.
“The Ombudsman has also said that eight RUC Special Branch agents were involved in 27 murders and attempted murders in South Belfast, one agent was recruited because of his involvement in ‘planning, preparation and execution’ of previous murders.
“The Ombudsman has found collusion in each and every killing, lives could and should have been saved but warnings about attacks being planned weren’t passed on and state agents involved in murder were allowed to kill and kill again.
“And it beggars belief that the RUC handed guns back out to loyalist paramilitaries so they could be used to kill again.
“This latest report by the Ombudsman shows a clear pattern of collusion and cover-up. Evidence and documentation were destroyed, warnings were not passed on to victims. The Special Branch refused to pass on relevant intelligence to investigators, eyewitnesses to killings were exposed to risk with their names read out in front of suspects.
“This report is a devastating indictment of collusion between the British state and loyalist paramilitaries.
“This is why the British government wants an amnesty for its state forces, intelligence services and the agents who killed for them. It is why victims, families, political parties and human rights groups continue to vigorously oppose these plans.
“It’s time to address the legacy of the past by implementing the mechanisms agreed at Stormont House in a human rights compliant manner to ensure that families are not waiting any more decades for truth and justice.”