Belfast Telegraph

IRA killers were not protected, says report

By Lesley-Anne McKeown

There is no evidence that police colluded to protect an IRA gang responsible for the murder of a man 40 years ago, the Police Ombudsman has said.

Even though there were failings in the RUC investigation into the death of Arthur Rafferty in 1974, there was nothing to suggest they were prompted by a desire to ensure the gunmen evaded justice, a new report has said.

Dr Michael Maguire said: "We have looked in great detail at all the available information and intelligence, both about the murder itself and about the various people family members thought were linked to it.

"We found no evidence that would indicate police knew about the planned attack beforehand and could have done something about it, or that anyone was protected from arrest or prosecution because they were a police informant."

Arthur Rafferty was shot at Newington Street close to its junction with the Limestone Road in north Belfast on August 15, 1974 and died in hospital several weeks later. The IRA claimed responsibility.

In a complaint to the Ombudsman's office, a member of the Rafferty family alleged that police colluded with the killers by failing to investigate the murder properly in order to protect police informants within the IRA.

They also claimed police had destroyed the murder weapon, lost significant exhibits and failed to pursue the names of five suspects which had been supplied to them.

A man was arrested in 1974, but the Ombudsman said there were no notes available to indicate whether or not this person was interviewed.

Three years later, in 1977, police authorised the destruction of the rifle and ammunition which had been found days after the attack.

Dr Maguire said: "Investigative failures are not in themselves automatic evidence of collusion.

"We did not find any evidence that police chose not to pursue relevant lines of inquiry or that information was withheld from the detectives investigating the murder."

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