[Sinn Fein]

25th June 2002

Loyalist murder gangs surrogates of the British state - Pat Doherty


West Tyrone Sinn Fein MP Pat Doherty says that it is now abundantly clear that the British Government, at the highest levels, armed, controlled and directed loyalist death squads in their campaign against the nationalist/republican community.

Speaking following the Panorama programmes into British state force collusion with loyalists Mr Doherty said,

``In light of these programmes, and in light of other recent revelations, which are now firmly in the public domain, the ``bad apple theory'' of state force collusion with loyalists has been well and truly discredited.

``Collusion with loyalists was an official policy - devised and sanctioned at the highest levels within the British Government. Representatives from RUC Special Branch, British Military and Military intelligence have been co-ordinated on a day to day - basis by government and `security' officials of the Task Co-ordinating Group (TCG). In turn, this group came under the direct control of the Joint Security Committee (JSC) in London, which reported directly to the British Cabinet. The chain of command went and still goes right to the top.

``Collusion with loyalists has existed for decades, the Dublin- Monaghan bombings being a prime example. However, the establishment of this structure in the late-1980's points to the formulation of a strategy to fine-tune this collusion to such an extent that loyalist murder gangs would be mere surrogates of the state - with the state controlling and directing their operations so as to effect a specific political outcome namely; to attempt to cower nationalists/republicans into lowering their political aspirations and demands.

``In January 1988, British Military Intelligence, through one of its prime UDA operatives Brian Nelson, rearmed the loyalist paramilitary organisations with South African weapons. In the six years preceding this shipment, the volume of loyalist violence was at it's lowest since the beginning of present phase of the conflict. 

In the 6 years following the shipment, from January 1988 to 1 September 1994, loyalists killed 229 people. The delivery of the shipment coincided with the `leaking' to loyalist paramilitaries of thousands of P files from various `security force' agencies. The personal details of the vast majority of those killed by the South African weapons were contained on these P files. 

Given the repeated failure of the RUC/PSNI to disclose ballistic evidence in regards to loyalist attacks, it is difficult to ascertain, with any certainty, the total number of people killed by the South African weapons up until the present day.  

Similar patterns of crown force behaviour/activity emerged prior to many loyalist killings including:

Collusion with loyalists was institutionalised - from those who devised the policy, to those who gave it practical effect on the ground. All sections of the British Military apparatus were mobilised in the implementation of this policy.

Likewise, any attempts at getting at the truth were met with outright hostility and obstruction. The world inhabited by Special Branch, the British Intelligence services and their political masters is not open to either public scrutiny or democratic accountability. 

``To let this happen would expose the full extent Britain's ``dirty war'' in Ireland. The fate of those who have previously attempted to peer behind the veil into this murky world is well known. Detective Chief Constable John Stalker was suspended, taken off the case and his name was blackened when he began getting too close to the truth in regards to RUC's shoot-to-kill policy. Likewise when former British army intelligence officer Fred Holroyd stated that SAS captain Robert Nairac was involved with loyalist murder gangs he was duly labelled as a ``Walter Mitty type character.'' John Stevens, the commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, has previously conducted two inquiries into allegations of collusion between loyalists and crown forces. In 1990, there was a `mysterious' fire that badly damaged the offices of the inquiry team. The RUC decided not to make the findings of either report public. 

``In the coming weeks and months, the British political and military establishment will once again close ranks to obstruct the disclosure of the truth about large scale institutionalised collusion and their role in it. 

``However, the can of worms has well and truly opened and they may find it more difficult if not impossible to put the cap back on this time.

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