Belfast Telegraph

Supergrass Haggarty: Lack of prosecutions 'sickens' families of UVF victims

By Victoria Leonard

Families of men murdered by the UVF say they are "sickened" at the decision not to prosecute 13 suspects implicated by the group's former north Belfast commander Gary Haggarty, and revealed that they have been traumatised for a second time by the investigation.

Jackie Larkin's taxi driver brother Gerald was shot dead by the UVF in Carrickfergus in 1994, while Kieran Fox's father Eamon was killed by the group while eating his lunch in a car in Tiger's Bay in the same year.

Both Jackie and Kieran said that they had "lost all trust and confidence in the PSNI and courts service".

Jackie said that she has been left "totally disgusted" by the Haggarty investigation, and that the process had been "re-traumatising" for the families.

"I can't count how many times we have been let down," she stated. "My mum is now in her 80s and we are still trying to find out what actually happened to my brother and get some closure, and we are not getting that.

"Each different department that comes on board makes all these promises and none of them are fulfilled. It's just the same horrible mess.

"My brother was totally innocent, which I'm sure a lot of the families were. Are we not entitled to the truth?

"We're promised it, but we are not getting it. I don't think we will ever get the truth."

Jackie said that the families had voiced "serious concerns" several times over the use of Haggarty's evidence.

"Why did this boil down to that we had to depend on the word of a criminal to get justice in the murders of our loved ones?" she asked.

"I think it's wrong. All these investigating officers, all these teams, the best they can offer is someone like that?"

Regarding the impact on her family, Jackie said that they had been "in the same boat for 20 years" and had gone through a "complete and utter minefield".

"Although I wasn't on that journey with my brother I might as well have been," she said.

"And to the day I die I'll always make that journey, until somebody out there steps up and says: 'Look, this is what happened, this is what we are prepared to do, this is what you are entitled to'."

Referring to the investigations so far as "tea and sympathy", Jackie said she would "never give up" the search for the truth.

"While there's breath in my body, I will never give up, I will keep on fighting until I get the truth and we can put him to rest, literally. I am serving a life sentence. They talk about the Troubles being over. It's not over for us. This scenario that it's in the past, it's not in the past for us."

Kieran Fox criticised the lack of action against Haggarty's Special Branch handlers.

He stated: "All we want is closure. My father was an innocent Catholic, he was doing nobody any harm where he was. They were out doing a day's work. We have the right to know what happened to our loved ones."

Referring to Gary Haggarty's sentencing later this month, he continued: "To me it means nothing, it wasn't Gary Haggarty that I wanted to see in the dock, it was police officers. I said that from day one.

"When you are told it's not happening, it's hard to take."

Solicitor Padraig O Muirigh, who represents the families of Eamon Fox, Gary Convie, Gerald Brady and John Harbinson, said that the families had "always had concerns" about the legislation being used, "but it's still very frustrating to hear that the PPS have made this decision".

He added: "It reinforces that the Special Branch were a force within a force and were above the law.

"There is a lot of frustration and hurt here."

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