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Government ‘90 percent to blame for my dad’s murder’ in Belfast bookies massacre

Give us the truth, says victims’ campaigner after London protest

JUSTICE campaigner Billy McManus whose father was murdered by loyalist gunmen in the Sean Graham bookies massacre, says he holds the British government 90 per cent responsible for the killing.

Mr McManus (53), from Belfast, travelled to Downing Street on Tuesday to hand in a letter of protest against the government’s proposed Troubles amnesty.


Victims' campaigner Billy McManus

Victims' campaigner Billy McManus

Victims' campaigner Billy McManus

He told Sunday Life he believes collusion was a major factor in his father’s killing, alongside thousands of others, which is why the government wants an amnesty.

He said: “Collusion is 90 per cent of my father’s murder. A British agent and a handler went into the barracks on the Malone Road and took handguns and rifles which went on to be used in several murders.

“Those guns were shipped in from South Africa by Brian Nelson who was another paid British agent, all of this has already been admitted.

“Some of those guns went on to be used in some of the worst atrocities of the Troubles like Sean Graham’s bookies, Loughinisland, Greysteel and others.

“You couldn’t even put into words the devastation them guns went on to cause and there’s a lot of questions to be answered.

“These murders affected everyone from Protestant and Catholic civilians to police officers and members of the armed forces.

“Of the 3,700 or so murders during the Troubles the government will have blood on their hands when it comes to over 2,000 of them.”

Mr McManus’ father William was killed in February 1992 when UDA gunmen burst into the Sean Graham bookies on the Ormeau Road, Belfast, and opened fire, killing five and injuring nine.

Handing in the letter of protest over the proposed government amnesty last week he was joined by fellow victims’ rights activist Raymond McCord, whose son was murdered by the UVF, as well as relatives of those who died in the Birmingham IRA pub bombings and SDLP leader Colum Eastwood.

Mr McManus said the group tried to gain access to Downing Street but was denied.

He added: “It went very well but it was disappointing that they wouldn’t let us in, Colum Eastwood was with us and did what he could, but they wouldn’t let us in which was disappointing.

“We registered our protest together in a very dignified way, it meant a lot to have those other families and victims with us.

“The hurt and the pain we share is the shame despite our different backgrounds, it brings home to you how much suffering is out there still due to the Troubles.

“All we have is memories and for the British government to try and take away from those memories by denying us access to the truth about how and why they died is incredibly sad, but that sadness is turning to anger.

“People need to ask the question why are they hiding the truth? Why will they not tell us what happened?

“The only thing we want is the truth and everyone is wondering why they are trying to hide the truth.

“They’re denying justice to families, if they want to resolve legacy issues then tell us what happened.

“Most families know they’re never going to get justice but if the truth was told and apologies were issued and the families were allowed to pursue civil cases that would go some way to healing the wounds.

“Then maybe those suffering this terrible pain can start to move on. When you have someone murdered in a terrible way like this, it never goes away you just learn to live with it.

“All we want is the truth.”

The proposed amnesty would apply to military veterans as well as ex-paramilitaries, and would also end all legacy inquests and civil actions related to the conflict.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said the plans would allow Northern Ireland to “draw a line under the Troubles” but they have been roundly condemned by all the main political parties in Northern Ireland.

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