THE GLENNANE GANG - BRITAIN'S DEATH BRIGADE
A major international report has called for an independent inquiry
into what senior British government figures knew about Crown force
collusion with unionist death-squads in 74 murders.
The report by a four-strong team of legal experts found "credible
significant" evidence of such collusion after investigating 25 cases
involving 76 murders between 1972 and 1977. They found that senior RUC
police were aware of and in some cases approved sectarian crimes
carried out by their juniors.
Using information already in the public domain, they also said members
of the RUC police and the British Army's UDR not only helped to train
unionist paramilitaries but also provided valuable information and
The murder operation responsible for almost all of the cases examined
operated from their Glennane base in South Armagh, in the heart of
the border area.
The panel, including a former International Criminal Court investigator
and a professor of law at Notre Dame University in the US, urged the
British government to conduct an independent inquiry to examine how
much senior government figures and police officers knew about
The legal team was asked to investigate the 25 cases -- most of which
focused on the mid-Ulster and border areas -- by Derry-based human
rights organisation The Pat Finucane Centre.
In all but one of the cases they said that they found evidence pointing
The panel found there was "compelling evidence that officers of the
British state - in particular RUC officers, UDR soldiers and their
agents - were involved in sectarian murders of Catholics".
"There is credible evidence that their activities were known and
supported, tacitly and in some cases explicitly, by some of their RUC
and UDR superiors and, to some extent, by some British intelligence and
army officers," it added.
"Despite this knowledge, appropriate criminal investigations and
prosecutions of these murders were not conducted, even in the face of
evidence amounting to probably cause for arrest," it said.
Members of the group spoke to former RUC officer John Weir who had
previously made allegations of collusion against former colleagues and
UDR members in 12 of the cases.
In most of these cases the report found that Mr Weir's allegations were
corroborated by RUC ballistics tests. The tests confirmed that some
weapons were also used in a number of killings linked to RUC and UDR
The report said that the Historical Inquiries Team (HET), established
by the PSNI police (formerly RUC) to reinvestigate unsolved murders,
did not meet "international standards for investigations".
At a Belfast presentation of the report yesterday, law professor
Douglass Cassel said: he was "shocked" by the level of collusion
"The British government has a reputation around the world as one
leading democracies and one of the longest histories of the rule of
"To find this extent of collusion in murders in the 25 incidents
investigated was shocking."
Sinn Fein MP for Newry and Armagh Conor Murphy said nationalists and
republicans in South Armagh knew "only too well" the legacy
UDR/RUC operation at Glennane.
"This report lifts the lid on their involvement in over 70 sectarian
murders and exposes the fact that senior figures in the RUC were fully
aware of the killings and the role of their colleagues in them. The
evidence is simply irrefutable.
"For many years Sinn Fein was a lone voice in exposing British State
collusion with unionist paramilitaries. We were vilified by the
political and media establishment who dismissed claims of collusion as
'republican propaganda'. We have now been vindicated and will continue
to stand with the families of those killed by the British State in
their search for the truth.
"The British State is going to have to face up to its role in the
systematic murder of over 1100 nationalists and republicans both
directly and through their surrogates in the various unionist death
Alan Brecknell, whose 32-year-old father was murdered in a 1975 gun and
bomb attack on Donnelly's Bar in south Armagh, said the report was a
"stepping stone" to finding out why the attack took place.
"In itself it's an acknowledgement that things happened here,"
"For us it's been a long road for our family but it is a road that
the families are going to pursue.
"To date the British government has not given us any answers.
"We need to see what the security services and special branch knew
was going on.
"The report is made up of information that is in the public domain.
What is actually in the security files?
"It's not about revenge, it's about getting meaningful answers so
can all move forward."