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BRITISH police were accused of “collusive behaviours” regarding 19 murders carried out by loyalist paramilitaries in Northern Ireland between 1989 and 1993 in a report released today.
Marie Anderson investigated 11 sectarian murders carried out by a faction of the loyalist paramilitary UDA in the north-west between 1989 and 1993 under the cover name of the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF).
The Police Ombudsman said that the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) failed to warn several victims — including two Sinn Fein councillors — that they were under threat.
She raised “significant concerns” over police conduct and failures to act ahead of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) attack on the Rising Sun pub in Greysteel, Derry in which eight people were killed.
The report found no evidence that police knew about any of the shootings before they took place but found what Ms Anderson described as “collusive behaviours.”
This included the passing on of information by security forces, the deliberate destruction of records and intelligence and surveillance failings which led to the arming of loyalist paramilitaries.
The 336-page report was compiled following a complaint made in 2006 by the family of Sinn Fein councillor Eddie Fullerton who was shot dead in his home in 1991.
Fellow councillor Bernard O’Hagan was killed by loyalist gunmen just a few months later.
Mr Fullerton was one of six people murdered whose names had been found in caches of loyalist intelligence information recovered by police.
Ms Anderson said that it was difficult to determine whether police deliberately failed to inform the Sinn Fein councillor of the potential risk to his life — a contravention of procedures.
“The absence of records makes it difficult to conclude,” she told BBC’s Good Morning Ulster programme.
The report also found links between the UDA, the RUC and the Army’s Ulster Defence Regiment.
Solicitor for some of the victims families Niall Murphy was not surprised by the findings and said that it vindicates what they had believed for decades.
“This report should not be read in a vacuum but should be read in a sequence of public statements that confirm the policy of collusion was a systemic state policy,” he said.
Mr Murphy said that there may be “a coherent call for a public inquiry” into policing in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
The family of Patrick Shanaghan who was shot dead by the UDA in 1991 said their concerns over collusion were “legitimate and justified” although criticised some elements of the report including a failure to deal with claims he had received death threats from police officer prior to his killing.
“What is most distressing for us was the blatant disregard the police had for Patrick’s life and the inexcusable refusal of police to allow medical assistance for Patrick after he was shot.
“As in life, Patrick was in death denied the most basic of human rights,” a family statement said.
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