29 May 2008 Edition

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Death of loyalist gang member a reminder of collusion

The death of James Mitchell, a member of a group of unionist paramilitaries known as the ‘Glenanne Gang’, has highlighted once again the issue of the collusion between British state forces and unionist paramilitary death squads.
Sinn Féin Newry/Armagh MP Conor Murphy said:
“The Glenanne Gang carried out some of the most notorious sectarian killings on both sides of the border. There is compelling evidence that senior members of British state forces, in particular RUC officers, UDR soldiers and their agents, were involved in these sectarian murders.
“James Mitchell was named along with other Glenanne Gang members in the Barron Report of 2003 into bombings in Dublin and Monaghan. There is credible evidence that their activities were known and supported, tacitly and in some cases explicitly, by some of their RUC and UDR superiors and by British intelligence and army officers.
“The issue of collusion between British state forces and unionist death squads like the Glenanne Gang is a major challenge in terms of how we respond to the needs of victims and address the issue of the truth, particularly in regard to the activities of Crown Forces with unionist paramilitaries.
“The claim that it was simply a case of bad apples does not stand up to scrutiny. It was a policy decision which stretches directly to Downing Street and as BBC’s Spotlight highlighted also involved the support of sections of the judiciary in the six counties.
“Sinn Féin will continue to support the families of those killed through the British policy of collusion in South Armagh and elsewhere in their campaign for the truth. The British government lived in denial for decades about this issue. It only began, reluctantly to address it when Sinn Féin placed it on the talks agenda. It will remain on the agenda until the web of collusion and cover-up is untangled.”

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