| 12.4°C Dublin

terror collusion Eight members of the UDA linked to Ormeau Road massacre were on RUC payroll

Police Ombudsman Marie Anderson said in total agents had been involved in 27 murders and attempted murders.

Close

A memorial on Ormeau Road to those killed in the betting shop shooting in 1992 (Liam McBurney/PA)

A memorial on Ormeau Road to those killed in the betting shop shooting in 1992 (Liam McBurney/PA)

A memorial on Ormeau Road to those killed in the betting shop shooting in 1992 (Liam McBurney/PA)

A damning report has uncovered police collusion in 11 murders carried out by the UDA in south Belfast. 

Operation Achille, an investigation into the murders including the slaughter of five innocent civilians at Sean Graham’s bookies in February 1992, revealed the killers in all instances were working as police agents.

Police Ombudsman Marie Anderson said in total agents had been involved in 27 murders and attempted murders.

Her report identified "significant" investigative and intelligence failures.

She said it was "totally unacceptable" that police used informants within the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) who were engaged in crimes such as murder.

Police apologised for the "failings identified".

Ms Anderson's 344-page report covers multiple attacks, mostly in the early 1990s.

The worst was at a Sean Graham betting shop on the Ormeau Road in south Belfast. On February 5, 1992 South Belfast UDA sprayed Sean Graham’s bookies with automatic gunfire hitting 12 of the 13 customers.

Among the dead was 15-year-old schoolboy James Kennedy whose last words were to ask for his mummy.

It had long been suspected state agents were involved in the killings but it has taken 30 years to uncover the full extent.

The Sunday World understands eight members of the terrorist unit were on the RUC payroll, including those who pulled the trigger that fateful day.

Sunday World Newsletter

Sign up for the latest news and updates

This field is required This field is required

Close

People at the 30th anniversary commemoration for the Sean Graham bookmakers atrocity on Ormeau Road in Belfast

People at the 30th anniversary commemoration for the Sean Graham bookmakers atrocity on Ormeau Road in Belfast

People at the 30th anniversary commemoration for the Sean Graham bookmakers atrocity on Ormeau Road in Belfast

Other killings involving state agent included the shooting of Theresa Clinton, killed at her home off the Ormeau Road which was targeted because her husband had stood as a Sinn Fein election candidate.

The report found no evidence that any of the shootings was preventable.

A statement from Relatives for Justice said the families of victims felt vindicated by the report's findings.

It added: "The report finds that 11 murdered citizens and their families were systemically failed by the British state in life and in death.

"It is a damning report that is undiluted evidence of the policy of collusion as it was practiced in south Belfast, and across the north."

The Ombudsman said it was “totally unacceptable” for Special Branch to use informants who had been involved in murder.

An escalation of loyalist violence in the early 1990s led the RUC to expand its network of informants within the south Belfast UDA.

But some of them "were actively participating in serious criminality, including murder."

"This was totally unacceptable and an illustration of how, on occasion, the interests of obtaining information from informants was given precedence over protection of the public from paramilitary crime and murder," Ms Anderson said.

The ombudsman's report also identified a range of other collusive behaviours.

These included the "deliberate destruction" of files relating to the Sean Graham betting shop murders; intelligence failures which allowed loyalists to obtain weapons and a failure to exploit all evidential opportunities.

The PSNI said parts of the report made for “uncomfortable reading” and apologised to the families of those killed.

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices


Privacy