31 May 2001 Edition

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Collusion controversy continues

BY LAURA FRIEL

Relatives of Patrick Shanaghan, who was shot dead near Castlederg, Co Tyrone in August 1991, are to meet US Congressman Peter King and Dublin Foreign Minister Brian Cowen to urge support for a fully independent public inquiry into Crown forces collusion in the killing.

Shanaghan's death followed a campaign of vilification and harassment by the RUC and British Army which included death threats. He was killed after photographs and personal details of the victim were ``lost'' by the British Army.

An admission by an RUC officer in his deposition to the inquest suggests that the RUC had prior knowledge of the killing. According to RUC officer Nigel Dodds, he was detailed to attend the incident at 8am, at least 20 minutes before Patrick Shanaghan was shot dead.

In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, Patrick was denied medical help. The RUC gave no first aid assistance. They did not request an ambulance to attend the scene and they refused to allow a local doctor access to the striken man. During the subsequent RUC investigation vital forensic evidence was ignored.

Earlier this month, the European Court of Human Rights found the British government in breach of Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights by failing to hold a proper investigation into the killing. The Shanaghan case was one of twelve taken to Strasbourg against the British government.

The European ruling has added impetus to the Shanaghan family's call for an independent public inquiry into Patrick's death. As part of their ongoing campaign for justice, they will meet Peter King and Brian Cowen next month.

Meanwhile, the brother of assassinated Belfast defence lawyer Pat Finucane has called for the immediate dismissal of a serving RUC officer who has admitted colluding in the killing of nationalists. The former member of the FRU, the covert British Army unit at the centre of the collusion controversy, was one of three British army handlers of UDA agent Brian Nelson.

Known only as `Geoff', the ex FRU operative has confirmed that he helped Nelson collate and store information on nationalists and has admitted that he supported Nelson when he selected targets for assassination. One of those targets was Pat Finucane, shot dead in 1989. The revelations came during an interview with BBC journalist Peter Taylor. `Geoff' is currently a serving member of the RUC.

``A serving RUC man has openly admitted he was involved in murder and deciding who should and should not live,'' said Martin Finucane. ``The RUC have seen fit to allow this man to continue on duty and have taken no action.''

Finucane went on to dismiss the current Stevens inquiry into his brother's killing. ``It is not open to public scrutiny, it does not have the support of families and is actually a way of thwarting the truth rather than aiding the process,'' he said.

Commenting on the interview, Taylor described `Geoff' as ``astonishingly up front. He said he was simply carrying out orders, doing what he thought he was supposed to be doing and was answerable to his masters and basically accepted what the policy was.'' Taylor said that the British government clearly needed to answer questions on the activities of the FRU.

Meanwhile another former member of the FRU has met with lawyers acting for the Saville Inquiry into Bloody Sunday. The British soldier, known only as Martin Ingram, said he was based in Derry as an FRU operative between 1981 and 1985. Ingram is the second British spy to reject the allegation that Martin McGuinness `fired the first shot' on Bloody Sunday and label evidence proffered by alleged British agent `Infliction' as inauthentic. Former MI5 spy David Shayler has already dismissed `Infliction' as a ``bullshitter''.

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