Loyalist paramilitaries admit collusion with army and RUC

 

Representatives of political parties associated with the UDA and UVF have admitted that there was RUC and British army collusion with loyalist paramilitaries, but said it was low-level and not officially sanctioned.

The allegation by a former UDA commander, Mr Bobby Philpott, of widespread collusion involving police, the British army and the UDR prompted further calls yesterday for an investigation into the claims. The RUC Chief Constable, Sir Ronnie Flanagan, said Mr Philpott would be questioned by police about his allegations which are to feature on Sunday night in the BBC television programme, Loyalists.

Mr Philpott said the security forces passed on information to the loyalist paramilitaries on a daily basis, information that was used to target and murder several people.

Sir Ronnie said that the allegations were not new. "They were thoroughly and vigorously investigated by John Stevens who found no evidence of RUC collusion," he added during a visit to Stormont yesterday where he attended the recital of a peace poem by schools from both sides of the community.

"If anybody has such evidence, of course, they should present it. We will be examining very carefully what Mr Philpott had to say. We will be speaking to Mr Philpott to see if he has been involved, if he can present any evidence or indeed if there is any evidence in relation to his involvement in what he has described," added the RUC Chief Constable.

The Alliance president, Dr Philip McGarry, said the allegations were disturbing, and should be investigated. "If what Bobby Philpott says is true it obviously poses serious questions for the security forces and indeed the community as a whole," added Dr McGarry. Mr Gary McMichael, leader of the Ulster Democratic Party, which is linked to the outlawed UDA, said there was evidence of low-level collusion, but that there was no evidence of it being officially authorised. He told BBC Radio Ulster the IRA had also benefited from information passed on to it from members of the Garda Siochana. "Everyone accepts there have been instances where collusion has taken place. We have seen it taken place on this side of the Border, and on the other side of the Border," added Mr McMichael. "The Stevens inquiry investigated this and didn't turn up any concrete evidence. If there is another inquiry, then that is a matter for the government, but I don't think that will turn up evidence of there being structural collusion between the British government or any of its agencies and paramilitary organisations be they loyalist or republican," he said.

Mr David Ervine, of the Progressive Unionist Party, which is linked to the UVF, said it would be very difficult to suggest there was no collusion whatsoever, but it was abject nonsense to suggest, as Mr Philpott was suggesting, that it had been happening on a daily basis.

Ms Nuala O'Loan, of the Police Authority, said if anyone had evidence of collusion they should bring it to the police for investigation. If it were produced the RUC should conduct an impartial investigation based on such evidence.

The Sinn Fein Assembly member, Ms Bairbre de Brun, said it was arrogant and insulting of Ms O'Loan to suggest the RUC should investigate whether it was involved in passing on information to loyalists. She said that loyalists operating with information from the RUC killed hundreds of innocent Catholics.

"It is clear that several thousand intelligence documents on individual nationalists were passed to the loyalist death squads by the RUC," she added. "What is required is a public inquiry carried out by an international body."