Saturday, February 03, 2007

The O'Loan Report

Politaholic has been a little busy at work recently, hence no posts for a couple of weeks. During that period several items have caught my interest. One is the publication of the report by the Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman, Nuala O'Loan, which documented collusion between the RUC Special Branch and a UVF (Ulster Volunteer Force) gang, some of whom were police informants, responsible for at least ten murders, drug dealing, extortion and intimidation. According to O'Loan: "It would be easy to blame the junior officers' conduct in dealing with various informants, and indeed they are not blameless. However, they could not have operated as they did without the knowledge and support at the highest level of the RUC and the PSNI [Police Service of Northern Ireland]." At least six former senior police officers (at the level of assistant chief constable or detective chief superintendent in the Special Branch) refused to cooperate with the enquiry. Slugger O'Toole (see Links) has a link to the following article by Brian Feeney which appears in the Irish News:

As Feeney points out, it is scarcely news that the RUC and MI5 colluded with loyalist murderers over many years. The O'Loan report had a limited remit, and so was able only to focus on this particular UVF gang over a limited period; but the part of the Steven's Report which was published also documents collusion. To be frank, it is something that has been widely known for decades to anyone with the briefest nodding acquaintaince with the six counties (as they say, "the dogs in the street" knew about it).

As Feeney says:

"Does anyone imagine that the RUC-protected murder gang operating out of Mount Vernon was anything other than one tiny fraction of the total British administration's conspiracy operation across Belfast, let alone across the north and in the Republic? Does anyone think you wouldn't uncover exactly the same stomach-turning sights if you knew which stone to turn over in say, Portadown or Lisburn or Armagh?".

But Feeney also makes another point:

"We know that after the Security Services Act of 1989 the director and coordinator of intelligence (DCI) at Stormont was responsible to the secretary of state. We know that intelligence provided by top agents was read by British cabinet members of the Joint Intelligence Committee. Are we seriously expected to believe that successive secretaries of state did not know of their agents' unsavoury misdemeanours? Does anyone believe senior intelligence officers did not ask for such behaviour to be sanctioned at cabinet level?"

That is why Peter Hain is so keen to put the whole thing "in the past" and why the Government is rushing through legislation to prevent enquires revealing the scale of collusion not just in the 1970's but in the 1990's and later (for example, the Justice and Security Bill will apparently prevent the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission investigating cases before August 1 2007). The last thing the government wants is for the truth to come out.


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