Mum’s collusion action may compel former UFF terror boss to take witness stand
A civil case taken by the mother of a murdered teenager will compel all living suspects to give evidence in court, including Person A — believed to be former UFF leader Johnny Adair.
Adair, who was convicted of directing terrorism, could be called to give evidence at the High Court case into the death of Damien Walsh despite denying having any knowledge of the killing.
The case will also now add MI5 as a defendant party following a damning Police Ombudsman report into the loyalist killing of the 17-year-old.
Ombudsman Marie Anderson found significant investigative failures by the RUC in relation to the murder, as well as evidence of “collusive behaviours” by police.
Mr Walsh was shot dead at a coal yard in the Dairy Farm complex in west Belfast on March 25, 1993 by the UFF. The gunman was believed to have been mass murderer Stephen McKeag.
The 30-year-old, who died of a drug overdose in 2000, is thought to have killed at least 12 people, most of them innocent Catholics, during a 10-year reign of loyalist terror.
He was also believed to have murdered Philomena Hanna, a 26-year-old mother-of-two gunned down while working in a pharmacy on the Springfield Road in Belfast.
And McKeag was connected to the Christmas 1991 attack on the Devenish Arms off Finaghy Road North, where 22-year-old civil servant Aidan Wallace died. An eight-year-old boy was also shot in the eye.
The killings all took place during Adair’s time as leader of the UDA’s so-called C Company.
Mrs Walsh had asked for Adair to tell what he knows about her son’s killing.
However, in an interview in Sunday Life, he denied having knowledge of the shooting.
“I understand how the family is feeling, but it’s absolutely nothing to do with me,” he said.
“I don’t know how my name has been linked in any way, shape or form to it.
“I cannot talk about something I have no knowledge of and I’m sorry that I can’t help anybody there.”
Adair, who lives in exile in Scotland, could be compelled to appear before a judge in the civil action taken by Mrs Walsh against the police.
The Dairy Farm complex was under security force surveillance at the time, with an Army unit witnessing the murder, but there is no evidence they were ever interviewed by police.
No one has ever been charged or convicted in relation to the attack.
The Ombudsman found that police made “a deliberate decision” to disregard intelligence about the threat posed by C Company at the time, stopping their surveillance of the group for an eight-day period, starting three days before Mr Walsh’s murder.
The surveillance operation had been conducted in anticipation of the IRA moving fertiliser intended for use in bombs. The fertiliser was stored in a unit two doors away from the coal yard in which Mr Walsh was working.
An unlikely target for the Shankill Road-based loyalist terror group given the location, it was always thought that they were tipped off by security services about the surveillance on the complex.
An innocent teenager working at the coal yard, Mr Walsh was not the intended target, and the Ombudsman found no mention of his name in any intelligence documents.
Secretary of State Brandon Lewis has said he wants to bring an end to all civil cases as part of a controversial legacy plan that will see a statute of limitations on all future Troubles-related investigations.
Mrs Walsh’s solicitor, Kevin Winters of KRW law, said the case is a “prime example why the British Government wants to shut down any conflict-themed litigation”.
“The Ombudsman report issued last week adds great weight and support to Marian Walsh’s ongoing collusion action in the High Court in Belfast,” he added.
“More specifically, it helps pave the way for her to join the Security Service [MI5] as an additional defendant to the proceedings. We can confirm an application will issue as soon as possible in September 2021.
“It’s the very sort of application Brandon Lewis wants to stop in future. And little wonder.
“They involve shining a big intrusive spotlight on the ‘men in dark suits’ David Cameron spoke of when he explained to the Finucane family why he couldn’t give them an inquiry into Pat Finucane’s murder.”