Belfast Telegraph

No proof of RUC collusion in loyalist bid to murder Gerry Adams, Ombudsman says

By Chris Kilpatrick

There is no evidence of collusion between would-be loyalist killers and the RUC in an assassination attempt on Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, an investigation by the policing watchdog has found.

Mr Adams was shot in the neck, shoulder and arm as UFF gunmen riddled his car with up to 20 bullets during the attack in Belfast city centre 30 years ago.

An investigation into the police handling of the incident began seven years ago after Mr Adams claimed the security forces had prior knowledge of, or had been involved in, the murder bid.

The gunmen – including former UFF leader John Gregg, himself murdered in 2003 during a loyalist feud – were detained at the scene by an off-duty police officer and three soldiers.

Mr Adams said he had concerns about them "coincidentally" arriving moments after the attack.

The Police Ombudsman, Dr Michael Maguire, said independent witnesses had supported the accounts of the security forces members that day, adding there was no evidence of any prior knowledge by the RUC of the shooting.

He said ammunition used in the attack had "lethal potential", but had not been tampered with as previously claimed.

"We have talked to all the people involved in the events that day, including the perpetrators, the victims and the police.

"We have examined all the available evidence, including forensic and sensitive intelligence material, and found no evidence that police knew of the attack beforehand," Dr Maguire said.

The gunmen opened fire on the car containing Mr Adams and four other men as they made their way from Belfast Magistrates Court in March 1984. An off-duty UDR soldier who was driving in the city centre at the time gave chase to the gunmen's car.

As it stopped in traffic, he got out of his vehicle and drew his firearm.

A policeman, who had also been off-duty, then arrived on the scene, as did two soldiers who were in plain clothes.

All three gunmen were detained and ultimately convicted and jailed for the attack.

The Police Ombudsman's Office launched an investigation following a complaint by Mr Adams after articles in two newspapers reported that members of the RUC knew of the attack beforehand.

Mr Adams said he felt "something was not quite right" about the entire incident and wondered how the security forces members appeared so soon.

Investigators examined intelligence material held by police and found nothing to indicate the RUC had prior warning of the attack or that any police informants were involved.

Mr Adams took issue with the findings.

He said: "In my opinion this report is incomplete. The Ombudsman should seek access to British Army files and other pertinent intelligence records and set aside his conclusions until this is done."

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