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'I've had countless death threats but we need to fight for justice'

Case study 2

Raymond McCord Jnr

Raymond McCord's 22-year-old son Raymond jnr was beaten to death by a UVF gang in 1997. He said:

"MY son Raymond jnr was so badly beaten they wouldn't let me see him in the morgue. He was identified through his fingerprints. We had a closed coffin.

He was the oldest of my three boys but he was a big softie.

I found out he had done his best to defend himself as the UVF battered him, but he was outnumbered and they used breeze blocks. There was only ever going to be one outcome. His body was found on Remembrance Sunday, November 9, 1997, in Ballyduff quarry.

He was 22-years-old. I never thought he'd be taken from me and his mother like that. The people who killed him claim to be loyalists but they are nothing but gangsters. They killed people because of their religion and over drugs.

The former Police Ombudsman, Nuala O'Loan, produced a tremendous report on the Mount Vernon UVF. It was damning of Special Branch. She said my son was murdered by one of their informers. It was a clear-cut case of collusion. The then Prime Minister, Tony Blair, accepted the report and said it all shouldn't have happened. But neither his government nor all the ones who came after that have done anything about it.

This informer and his associates were involved in many killings. I want to see the handlers in these cases in the dock. The police are meant to be there to protect us but all too often they didn't do that.

I had a friend who was a cop, a good guy, a Christian who upheld the law, but in my experience there were far too many who weren't like him.

The UVF held an inquiry into my son's murder. It was a sham. I talked to three hooded men. They assured me there would be no cover-up. The one leading the investigation was later exposed as a Special Branch agent.

Nationalists have long addressed the collusion issue. Unionists are uncomfortable with it. I've relatives who don't speak to me because they don't like what I'm saying. I've no time for most unionist politicians. Justice means nothing to them. The DUP promised me they'd name Raymond's killers in the House of Commons. I never heard from them again.

I've received countless death threats. The UVF have smashed my son's headstone three times. It's other victims who keep me going. I went down to speak alongside some of the Bloody Sunday relatives in Derry and they had a picture there of Raymond in his Royal Air Force uniform. I thought that was a lovely touch.

People might think me reckless for taking on the UVF and the police like I do.

But I was never going to walk away from this. It was always me and Raymond from the moment he was born. I could do no wrong in his eyes and, while I've breath in my body, I'll be there for him.

I always wonder if he ended up in the UVF because of me. I'd clashed with the UDA many times and maybe Raymond joined the UVF to counter that.

The unionist community needs to wake up. Collusion isn't an illusion. My son is dead because of it. We shouldn't be just sitting here telling our stories. We have to be out fighting for justice."

Belfast Telegraph