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Families in legal bid to restart probe into Glenanne collusion

By Alan Erwin

Published 08/05/2015

Families of Glenanne gang victims (from left) Patrick Fay, Noel Hegarty, Bernie McNally, Aiden Shield, Bernadette Joly and Margaret Irwin
Families of Glenanne gang victims (from left) Patrick Fay, Noel Hegarty, Bernie McNally, Aiden Shield, Bernadette Joly and Margaret Irwin

Police chiefs should be ordered to ensure completion of a major investigation into suspected state collusion with a loyalist unit behind more than 100 murders, the High Court heard.

A judge was told victims' relatives deserve the dignity of knowing the truth about a killing spree spanning most of the 1970s.

A draft report into alleged security force collaboration with the so-called Glenanne gang was said to have been 80% finalised before being shelved.

Danny Friedman QC said: "It's not the job of members of civil society, interested parties and bereaved families to put the jigsaw together.

"That is the job of the respondent (the PSNI) at this stage and that's why we bring the claim."

The legal challenge against the Chief Constable for an alleged failure to complete an overarching, thematic inquiry and report through the Historical Enquiries Team (HET) has been brought by the brother of one schoolboy victim.

Patrick Barnard (13), was one of four people who died in a bomb at the Hillcrest Bar in Dungannon, Co Tyrone, in March 1976.

The murder gang based at a farm in Glenanne, Co Armagh, allegedly contained members of the RUC and the UDR.

Claims of security force collusion continue to surround the catalogue of killings carried out in the mid Ulster and border areas.

Up to 120 murders in nearly 90 incidents are under scrutiny.

They include atrocities such as the 1975 Miami Showband Massacre, where three members of the popular group were taken from their tour bus and shot dead on a country road in Banbridge, and the Step Inn pub bombing in Keady a year later, which claimed the lives of two Catholics.

Bereaved relatives packed into the largest of the Royal Courts of Justice in Belfast for the start of a two-day hearing.

With the HET now effectively shut down, Patrick's brother, Edward Barnard, wants a judge to compel police to complete the full investigation and publish the findings.

His London-based barrister claimed a thematic report was promised into the "inextricable" links between a set of cases from 1972-79. Failure to deliver contravened human rights requirements, it was contended. The case continues.

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