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Notre Dame Professor Shocked At Extent Of Collusion

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Sceala Irish Craic Forum Discussion:     Notre Dame Professor Shocked At Extent Of Collusion

A US academic today spoke of his shock at the extent of apparent security force collusion in loyalist paramilitary murders in the North. University of Notre Dame human rights law Professor Douglass Cassel was commenting after an international investigation he headed uncovered considerable and credible evidence of British Army and police collusion in 74 sectarian murders during the 1970s.

Notre Dame Professor Shocked At Extent Of British Collusion

The probe of 25 loyalist atrocities, carried out by a panel of human rights experts from around the world, found senior Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers were aware and approved of collusion while officials in London had enough information to intervene. The panel’s report also called on the British government to appoint an independent inquiry to examine how high up the chain of command collusion went.

Professor Cassel told PA at the Belfast presentation of the report: “Personally I was shocked. “The British government has a reputation around the world as one of the leading democracies and one of the longest histories of the rule of law. “To find this extent of collusion in murders in the 25 incidents we investigated was shocking.”

The panel was asked by the Derry-based human rights organisation the Pat Finucane Centre to investigate allegations of collusion in 25 loyalist attacks from October 1972 to February 1977 – most of which are linked to a loyalist gang known as the Glenanne group. Among the incidents they investigated were the May 1974 Dublin Monaghan bombings which claimed 33 lives, the Miami Showband massacre in July 1975 during which three musicians and two members of the Ulster Volunteer Force gang died.

Professor Cassel called on the British government to establish an independent investigation that was sufficiently broad to investigate the depth, strength and extent of collusion across the security forces. He confirmed the panel would press for meetings with the British government at all levels to ensure the allegations they uncovered were taken seriously. He also confirmed they had requested a meeting with the Irish government tomorrow after the report is presented in Dublin. The panel would also request a meeting with the Westminster Joint Committee on Human Rights and would present the Council of Europe with a copy of the report.

Alan Brecknell, whose 32-year-old father Trevor was one of three people killed in a loyalist gun attack on Donnelly's Bar in Silverbridge Co Armagh in December 1975, welcomed the report. “What is certainly important for our family is the acknowledgement from people of the standing of Douglass, Susie Kemp, Stephen Sawyer and Piers Pigou - people with a human rights background in South Africa, Guatemela, Sierra Leone, El Salvador – that they were able to take time out and come to listen to the families’ stories in a humane, sympathetic way,” he said at the launch. “This report is a pressure point. It’s someone else saying the British government really has questions to answer and should answer these questions. “It is also heartening to hear Douglass saying he’s going to the European Council of Ministers with this. That is a big thing for me to hear, to learn that there is not just going to be press launches of this report today and tomorrow. “It’s good to know that while we will be pushing for the truth from here, they will be pushing for it as well.”

Sinn Féin MP Conor Murphy, who attended the presentation, said the report lifted the lid on security force involvement in the attacks, producing irrefutable evidence. “For many years Sinn Féin was a lone voice in exposing British state collusion with unionist paramilitaries,” the Newry and Armagh MP said. “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 more than 1,100 nationalists and republicans both directly and through their surrogates in the various unionist death squads.”

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