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15 October 2000 Edition

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Senior RUC officer confirms collusion claims

In 1998, the Pat Finucane Centre (PFC) was approached by the families of three men who were killed in a loyalist gun and bomb attack on Donnelly's Bar, Silverbridge, on 19 December 1975. These families were seeking closure. Preliminary research pointed to the likelihood that there had indeed been collusion between members of the security forces and the UVF in this case. Subsequently, a former RUC officer from the area approached the centre and his views about the allegations were heard. Furthermore, a Chief Superintendent currently serving at RUC headquarters agreed to a meeting with representatives of the PFC and members of the Silverbridge families.

The Chief Superintendent believed there had been collusion in the case - he stated that the perpetrators included one RUC Reservist and two UDR men, and the rest were loyalist paramilitaries from the Portadown area. He admitted that a specific group consisting of both RUC and UDR personnel, as well as loyalist paramilitaries, had been operating in this area at that particular time. He believed that `permutations' of this same group were involved in the attacks in Silverbridge, Dublin-Monaghan, Kay's Tavern in Dundalk, the killings of two GAA supporters at Tullyvallen, the attack on the Reavey family, and other killings.

This was clearly a significant assertion for a serving member of the RUC to make. The PFC, therefore, decided to follow up the claim that permutations of the same gang were involved in attacks throughout the area, on both sides of the border. A decision was made that the numerous attacks this gang is believed to have been involved in needed to be both verified and linked together in a clear manner. A mapping exercise was therefore undertaken.

The result, so far, is that 32 attacks have been identified by the PFC as having been carried out by permutations of the one gang. This represents 87 people killed and hundreds of people injured. There have been no prosecutions in 20 of these cases. On Saturday, 14 October, a number of the families affected by the activities of this group came together for the first time at the invitation of the PFC.

For more details and a report on the conference see www.serve.com/pfc and access the item on collusion in South Armagh.

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