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Priest who gave last rites to victim voices concerns

By David Gordon

A catholic priest has warned that the O'Loan collusion investigation has heightened wider suspicions about the policing of loyalist groupings.

Fr Dan Whyte, who has comforted the families of young people shot dead by the UDA, also defended the use of public money for inquiries into murder and collusion.

His parish is in Newtownabbey, an area that has suffered a spate of loyalist paramilitary violence in the past 10 years.

UVF informers exposed in this week's Police Ombudsman report committed murder in the district.

Fr Whyte pointed out that the Ombudsman's report had centred on the Mount Vernon UVF.

He said there were still suspicions about the police's failure to catch UDA killers.

"The feeling of people that I have dealings with would be that there are other instances where they believe if there was not direct collusion, there was a lack of effectiveness by police in pursuing the people responsible for various murders."

The parish priest said: "It gives me absolutely no pleasure or satisfaction that these allegations are being made, and are apparently now substantiated by the Ombudsman."

Fr Whyte said inquiries into such allegations cost public money.

He added: "As the Secretary of State has recently pointed out, a lot of money has already been spent on inquiries. And why not? If further inquiries need to be made, they should be made."

Fr Whyte gave the last rites to 19-year-old Catholic Gerard Lawlor, who was killed in a gun attack by the north Belfast UDA as he walked home from a pub in July 2002.

Other UDA victims in the surrounding district during that period included: 20-year-old Catholic postman Danny McColgan, who was shot dead in Rathcoole in January 2002; 19-year-old Protestant Gavin Brett, who was mistaken for a Catholic and murdered outside a Glengormley GAA club in July 2001; and Catholic Gary Moore (30), a building worker shot dead in Monkstown in December 2000.

No-one has been brought to justice for these murders.

Belfast Telegraph


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