‘We still want justice’ - victims’ families react to report linking police to loyalist murders

North’s Police Ombudsman highlights RUC connections to 11 UDA/UFF killings in Belfast

Retired police officers accused of “collusive behaviours” with loyalist paramilitaries which carried out a murderous campaign against Catholics in the 1990s must be brought to justice, families of the victims have said.

The call follows a damning report published on Tuesday by the North’s Police Ombudsman, highlighting Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) connections to 11 Ulster Defence Association (UDA)/Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) killings in Belfast.

The report also identified 27 attempted murders by loyalist police informants, where guns were handed to paramilitaries by police, a “blind eye” was turned to their activities and “significant” investigative and intelligence failures took place.

Reacting to the 344-page report at a news conference, murder victim Theresa Clinton’s daughter Siobhan Kelly said it was “shocking from start to finish”.

Ms Kelly’s father James (Jim) Clinton received no warning of a threat to his life — known by police at the time — before an attack on his home in April 1994 in which Theresa Clinton was shot dead.

Ms Kelly said the RUC had multiple opportunities to warn of the threat.

“The Ombudsman stated that if our family had been informed of the imminent threat that this could have prevented my mummy’s murder,” she said.

The report found a gun used in the notorious massacre at Sean Graham’s bookmakers on the Ormeau Road on February 5th, 1992, in which five people including a 15-year-old boy were murdered, was handed to a known loyalist terrorist and informant by police.

Both “deactivated” and “live” weapons were handed over to loyalist paramilitaries by police at the time, despite police knowing that they had the ability to make deactivated weapons operational again.

Bosco Kennedy, brother of James, the 15-year-old shot dead, said families and survivors of attacks had been waiting over 30 years for the report.

“From a personal point of view the simple facts that I take from this report is the loyalist murderers who carried out the Sean Graham bookmakers atrocity were police informants and one of the guns used to murder my 15-year-old brother was given to the UDA by the RUC police handlers,” he said.

“Today we get the truth but we still want justice.”

Mr Kennedy said RUC officer who handled the informants must face justice.

“We want to know who put the guns in those loyalist murderers’ hands,” he said.

Tommy Duffin, whose father Jack was also killed in the Sean Graham shootings, said the report “should have been more damning in my personal opinion”. “This is only a chapter for us. I think the new chapter begins when we start hunting down the perpetrators and also their handlers,” he said.

“This has to happen. We have to get a mechanism to bring these people to justice so our loved ones can rest in peace.”