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8 Feb, 2022 10:20

British police colluded with loyalist paramilitaries during Irish ‘Troubles’ – watchdog

Official probe has found 11 murdered citizens were “systemically failed by the British state in life and in death.”
British police colluded with loyalist paramilitaries during Irish ‘Troubles’ – watchdog

An investigation into eight attacks attributed to the loyalist Ulster Defence Association (UDA) or the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) has identified “significant failures” by UK authorities during the period known as The Troubles in Northern Ireland in the 1990s.

Laying out the findings in the 344-page report, published on Tuesday, Marie Anderson, the police ombudsman for Northern Ireland, claimed she was “deeply concerned” by the findings, which showed members of the police force, the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), had deliberately destroyed files.

The “damning” investigation, which found “undiluted evidence of the policy of collusion,” stated that “11 murdered citizens and their families were systemically failed by the British state in life and in death.”

A spike in violence from loyalist paramilitary groups during the Troubles saw the RUC seek to expand its network of informants within the UDA and UFF. The RUC was condemned for a “totally unacceptable” practice of using informants who “were actively participating in serious criminality” and, in some cases, murders. However, the report did not find evidence that police had been handed information that could have stopped the attacks.

The Troubles, which lasted from the 1960s to the late 1990s, saw violent attacks and reprisals between Irish republican paramilitaries and Ulster loyalist groups. The UDA, which had tens of thousands of members at one point, has been deemed responsible for killing hundreds of people during the conflict. It was formally banned in August 1992, and announced in 2007 that “the war is over.” However, in 2018, then-Police Service of Northern Ireland Chief Constable George Hamilton claimed members of the UDA were still involved in criminal activities.

“Areas of the report make uncomfortable reading and I want to offer my sincere apologies to the families of those killed and injured for the failings identified in this report,” PSNI Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Jonathan Roberts said in a statement.

In his remarks, Roberts acknowledged the “continuing distress being felt by all of the families of those killed and injured in these attacks, and want to acknowledge the pain and suffering that they all continue to feel.”