25 October 2007 Edition

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Families reject O'Loan report

THE ROLE of the RUC and their handling of loyalist killer gangs in East Derry was revisited last week with the publication of a report into the Halloween 1993 Greysteel Massacre that left eight people dead.
Police Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan investigated the circumstances surrounding the infamous UDA ‘Trick or Treat’ killings in the Rising Sun bar in Greysteel, County Derry, after a complaint by the SDLP’s John Dallat.
Dallat told O’Loan he had passed information to the RUC after the assassinations of four workers in Castlerock in March 1993 and that this information could have prevented the Greysteel attack, had the RUC acted on it.
However, the Police Ombudsman dismissed Dallat’s complaint, saying her investigators had spoken to three retired RUC officers who had “no recollection” of ever receiving information that could have prevented the Greysteel killings.
Another aspect of Dallat’s complaint was that Greysteel killer Torrens Knight was an RUC agent.
O’Loan said she could neither “confirm nor deny whether any person is a police informant”. Her investigators did not find “any evidence” that Knight was protected from the law.
In a statement responding to both O’Loan’s report and Dallat’s unsuccessful complaint, the families of six nationalists shot dead by loyalist gun gangs in the County Derry and south-west Antrim areas accused Dallat of naiveté if he thought the RUC was not part of the ‘Dirty War’.
The families were also dismissive of the O’Loan report.
They are angry at the disclosure that her investigators accepted the testimony of what the families called “three now conveniently retired RUC officers” who claimed they had “no recollection” of receiving information that could have prevented the Greysteel killings.
In the families’ statement  – signed by Johnny Donaghy, Una Casey, Lawrence Cassidy, John O’Hagan, Pauline Davey-Kennedy and Shauna Gallagher – they said:
“To say they had no prior warning of the attack shows either an alarming level of incompetence or an even more alarming level of collusion at some level in the security forces.
“At that time there were at least four known loyalist killers and up to a dozen of a back-up gang moving around north Antrim and east Derry with seeming impunity. They were all known to the public and to most of the families of their victims. Torrens Knight was to become the best known of them, although he was not the top hit-man of the squad. That person has never been convicted and is well known to the police.
“Torrens Knight met regularly with an RUC officer in Kilrea when he worked in the town prior to the killings. Other well-known loyalists were often in the vicinity during these meetings. Incidentally, the fact that Knight got this particular job in the town has always been a source of bewilderment as he was a known criminal with strong loyalist leanings.”

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