7 August 2008 Edition

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Haddock gang to be investigated by specialist HET unit

Mark Haddock

Mark Haddock

Nationalists are treating with scepticism the news that NIO Security Minister Paul Goggins is to set aside £1million for the Historical Enquiries Team (HET) to investigate the activities of the UVF’s Mount Vernon killer gang. The gang, responsible for up to 16 killings, was led by Special Branch informer Mark Haddock.
Haddock’s gang, was involved in the 1994 massacre in the Heights Bar in Loughinisland, County Down in which six Catholic men were murdered. And it has now emerged that a member of the British Army’s notorious Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) was heavily involved in planning the attack.
Reports indicate that the UDR soldier provided intelligence on the bar and its locality and drove the gun gang away after the slaughter. The UDR man was also responsible for dumping the weapons used in the killings.  
The news that the NIO is to provide extra money for a specialist unit within the HET to investigate the Mount Vernon gang and how it was run by Special Branch marks a turnaround in NIO thinking.
Initially Goggins said no additional resources would be available, a statement that brought the ire of the families of those killed by Haddock’s gang down on his head. They saw his refusal as another attempt to cover up the extent of the control Special Branch had over the UVF in North Belfast.
In her January 2007 report into the activities of Mark Haddock and the Mount Vernon UVF the then Police Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan found that Special Branch “babysat” informers during RUC interviews, falsified interview notes and blocked Crown Forces’ search operations in Mount Vernon. She called on the Chief Constable of the PSNI Sir Hugh Orde to reinvestigate the role played by Haddock and the UVF in 16 killings as well as the Special Branch’s attitude to the killers.
Sinn Féin’s Carál Ní Chuilín who represents North Belfast welcomed the news that the NIO is providing the extra money to the HET Unit to reopen the case. She added a word of caution:
“The activities of the Mount Vernon UVF and the relationship it had with Special Branch clearly exposed the structural connection between loyalist killers and the crown forces. The new investigation must go to the heart of that relationship or it will be viewed as another wasted effort to provide justice for the relatives of those killed and whose killings were covered up.”

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