Belfast Telegraph

State papers: Greysteel killers were rehoused in separate jail after UDA fallout

The scene where seven people were fatally shot (PA)
The scene where seven people were fatally shot (PA)

By David O'Dornan

A split between UDA prisoners over support for the peace process saw some terrorists - including the Greysteel massacre killers - kicked out of the ranks and sent to a separate jail.

The revelation is contained in a file on exploratory dialogue with loyalists that was declassified by the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland yesterday.

It referred to "a new problem" at the high-security Maze prison.

One memo states: "UDA prisoners in H2 have expelled nine UDA prisoners (including the four prisoners convicted of the Greysteel shooting attack).

"There had been ongoing tension between hawks and doves in the UDA ranks over the issue of support for the peace process. The particular flashpoint was the painting of peace doves as part of a UDA mural.

"Hawks complained and were expelled. They are currently being held at Maghaberry."

Eight people died after the Greysteel massacre in 1993.

Elsewhere in the document - a briefing note requested by NIO official Stephen Leach of a meeting with the PUP and UDP on June 14, 1995 - it detailed how loyalists broached the issue of getting paramilitary prisoners out of jail early.

Both the PUP and UDP - linked to the UVF and UDA - put forward papers regarding a series of prison issues, but the suggestion on releasing inmates was met with disapproval.

The record stated: "Both papers argued that prisoners were central to the process and that early release was a necessary part of that process.

"I might find the second proposition more easy to agree with were there some recognition that the timing of releases must be linked to clear practical progress towards a lasting settlement.

"I do not accept that early release is the way to achieve such a settlement.

"The Government position is that prisoners have been lawfully convicted by the courts for their crimes of violence - they are not hostages nor are they political prisoners - and having been convicted, prisoners should expect to serve their sentence."

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