Belfast Telegraph

Fury McGurk's families not told Haggarty named killers

By Claire Williamson

A solicitor representing families of the McGurk's bar bombing victims has written to the Chief Constable after it emerged that UVF supergrass Gary Haggarty provided information to police on the atrocity.

During a sentencing hearing on Thursday it was revealed that Haggarty had given details to the PSNI several years ago relating to the perpetrators of the December 1971 attack.

The UVF bombing of the North Queen Street pub left 15 people dead.

Campaigners say the information from Haggarty was not passed on to the families by the PSNI.

Solicitor Niall O'Murchu, of Madden & Finucane, said: "Given the serious implications that this is likely to have, we can confirm that we have today written to both the Chief Constable of the PSNI and the Police Ombudsman Michael Maguire to obtain clarity about what their respective offices did, and didn't do, in relation to these revelations.

"This is a matter of the utmost seriousness, and both OPONI and the PSNI have questions to answer."

Gerard Keenan, whose parents Sarah and Edward Keenan died in the massacre, said: "This revelation that the PSNI recently had new and potentially important information about the McGurk's bar bombing is a shock.

"The Police Ombudsman had oversight of Gary Haggarty's debrief interviews and should have known about this as well."

Asked yesterday about the court revelations, Chief Constable George Hamilton said they were "not easy listening".

"It is challenging for us. I don't want to say or do anything that would compromise the integrity of that process," he said.

"If we have to give an account of our actions we'll be doing it in the witness box and explaining it through due process. It is a case that is of concern to us, and the Police Ombudsman has a role to in that.

"But let me be clear in a general sense. If on legacy cases or current day issues police officers or the police organisation have acted inappropriately or outside the law, then we should be held to account for that. I'm not looking for different treatment or to hide anything in any of these cases.

"All of this reinforces the need for the creation of a Historical Investigations Unit, which will deal with potential misconduct by police officers, other state actors or indeed terrorists - and let's not forget it was terrorists who carried out many of these murders.

"I have no question around the independence of this organisation, but I accept that many others do."

UVF chief Haggarty (45), a long-time police informer, has pleaded guilty to 202 terror offences, including five murders, as part of a controversial deal that offered a reduced prison term in return for evidence against other suspects.

Earlier this week Haggarty's defence barrister argued that while his client was automatically entitled to a reduction for becoming a state witness in 2010, he should also be given credit for assisting Special Branch since becoming an RUC agent in 1993.

Since turning supergrass, Haggarty has provided information on 55 loyalist murders and 20 attempted murders in 1,015 police interviews.

Belfast Telegraph

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