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24 January 2002 Edition

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O'Loan to probe suspicious UDA death

Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan is to look into the events surrounding the death of a UDA member who had information on the sectarian killing of Catholic postal worker Daniel McColgan.

Announcement of the investigation has raised serious questions about the RUC\PSNI investigation into the McColgan killing and once again raises the spectre of Crown forces' collusion with loyalist death squads.

UDA member Stephen McCullough was found dead on Cavehill only hours after making an offer to a member of the RIR to supply information to the RUC\PSNI in relation to the loyalist killing of Daniel McColgan.

It was initially claimed that the 39-year-old loyalist from Rathcoole had fallen from the top of the mountain while out running.

After being approached by McCullough, the RIR soldier in North Belfast summoned the RUC\PSNI. According to the RUC\PSNI, McCullough was arrested on the pretext of a drink driving offence. Although the nearest RUC/PSNI barracks was Antrim Road barracks, from where the investigation into the McColgan killing is being run, McCullough was taken to Musgrave Street, which is in a completely different RUC/PSNI division.

Despite the fact that McCullough had initiated contact with the PSNI/RUC and had stated his intention to reveal vital information in relation to the McColgan murder, he 'left' the barracks before being interviewed by the CID, it has been claimed.

Five hours later, on Wednesday 16 January at 1.30pm, a couple walking in the North Belfast country park discovered McCullough's body. Effectively, McCullough disappeared after being taken to Musgrave barracks and turned up dead a few hours later.

Sinn Féin Assembly member Gerry Kelly said that the circumstances of McCullough's death raised a number of serious questions. "Not least of these is why the RUC failed to act on the offer of information from a UDA member about the killing," he said. "It is also extremely worrying that this man ended up dead only hours after offering this information.

"Only a few people knew about McCullough's offer to give information: the RIR member who was approached and the RUC\PSNI members involved. Despite this, a UDA source has confirmed that he was aware that McCullough had visited an RUC barracks before his death.

"Did the RUC\PSNI or RIR alert the UDA to the fact that this man had offered to supply information? If this turns out to be the case, then it also raises questions about Mr McCullough's death and the possibility that he was killed by the UDA. If so, the spectre of collusion between the Crown forces and the UDA raises its ugly head and makes the PSNI/RUC and the RIR accessories to his death."
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