Northern Ireland police guilty of ‘collusive behavior’ in 1990s, police ombudsman says News
© WikiMedia (Guinnog)
Northern Ireland police guilty of ‘collusive behavior’ in 1990s, police ombudsman says

Marie Anderson, Police Ombudsman for Nothern Ireland, released a 344-page report Tuesday identifying operational failures and “collusive behaviors” by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) in the 1990s. Anderson’s office investigates civilian complaints about police in Northern Ireland.

During the Northern Ireland Conflict, or “the Troubles,” Northern Ireland saw explosive conflict between loyalists, mostly Protestants, and Irish nationalists, mostly Catholics.

The Ulster Defence Association (UDA), a loyalist paramilitary group, operated under the pseudonym Ulster Freedom Frighters (UFF) and carried out more than 400 murders, according to the report. Most of the group’s victims were Irish Catholic civilians, and 56 of those murders occurred between 1990 and 1994 in Belfast alone, Anderson revealed.

During this time period, Anderson concluded, the RUC Special Branch recruited “high-risk” informants within the UDA/UFF but “failed to properly manage informants to identify concerns about their continued use.” Consequently, the Special Branch collaborated with informants who were “actively participating” in murder and other violence. 

Collusive RUC acts revealed in the report included:

  1. Intelligence and surveillance failings which led to loyalist paramilitaries obtaining military grade weaponry in a 1987 arms importation;
  2. A failure to warn two men of threats to their lives.
  3. A failure to retain records and the deliberate destruction of files relating to the attack at Sean Graham Bookmakers;
  4. The failure to maintain records about the deactivation of weapons – “indicating a desire to avoid accountability for these sensitive and contentious activities”;
  5. The failure of police to exploit all evidential opportunities;
  6. Failures by Special Branch to disseminate intelligence to murder investigation teams;
  7. An absence of control and oversight in the recruitment and management of informants;
  8. The continued, unjustifiable use by Special Branch of informant(s) involved in serious criminality, including murder and the passive ‘turning a blind eye’ to such activities.

Item three refers to a shooting at a Belfast bookstore on February 5, 1992.  Two masked men entered Sean Graham Bookmakers and opened fired, killing five people and injuring others. According to Anderson’s report, the RUC “deliberately concealed” the fact that a Browning 9mm semi-automatic pistol and VZ58 automatic assault rifle used in the attack were linked to other murders. In fact, police briefly had possession of the Browning pistol, but returned it to the UDA/UFF.

Anderson notified the complainants in the investigation that she planned to release her report to the public and edited the content accordingly.