12 July 2007 Edition

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UVF planned Catholic school massacre

BY LAURA FRIEL

A planned massacre of Catholic primary school children in South Armagh by the notorious Glenanne gang of unionist paramilitaries, centrally involved in the bombings of Dublin and Monaghan in 1974, was only aborted after the Belfast UVF leadership intervened. Aware the gang was controlled by the British army and RUC, the UVF leadership in Belfast feared the plan was double edged and such an atrocity could undermine support the UVF.
The Glenanne gang had planned to attack St Laurence O’Toole Primary School in the village of Belleeks in South Armagh in 1976. The gang included serving members of the UDR and RUC and was responsible for dozens of murders in the border area in the 1970s, including killings in Dundalk, Silverbridge, Whitecross and Gilford.
The details of the planned school massacre emerged after families of other victims of the Glenanne gang challenged the British army characterisation of the killings as a part of a feud between the UVF and IRA.

British Intelligence
The families, who have demanded the British army statement to be withdrawn, pointed out that the Glenanne gang was made up of members of the RUC and UDR as well as unionist paramilitaries and controlled by British Military Intelligence and RUC Special Branch.
In 2004 a former Glenanne gang member and RUC officer William McCaughey, now deceased, told a television documentary of the gang’s plan to target a Catholic primary school or a convent in Newry. McCaughey said the plan emerged as a revenge attack following Kingsmill.
A spokesman for the victims relatives’ group Alan Brecknall said the families’ own investigation along with forensic evidence and the findings of the Barron report into the Dublin/Monaghan bombings, had convinced them that the killings were officially tolerated.
Brecknall, whose father was murdered by the gang, pointed out that the killings were used as an excuse for the introduction of repressive legislation and measures. He said that those who planned the killings did so to create the circumstances in which further repression could be introduced.
Our suspicions that there was a hidden hand behind these terrible events, that they were orchestrated and that the loss of innocent life in both communities was intended, have been reinforced by allegations made since by members of the Glenanne gang, said Brecknall.

An Phoblacht
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