A former senior RUC police officer has confirmed that a north Belfast UVF commander was involved in more than a dozen murders while he worked for RUC Special Branch.
Johnston ‘Jonty’ Brown said the UVF figure was “protected” to ensure he was not exposed, despite the fact that they he was associated with several killings of Protestants and Catholics.
A leaked copy of a confidential report compiled by the respected London-based human rights group British Irish Rights Watch (BIRW) lists nine of the people whom the UVF man is alleged to have murdered, either through direct involvement or indirectly by ordering or being linked to these killings.
Raymond McCord, whose son Raymond jnr is believed to have been murdered on the orders of this UVF figure in 1997, said that British and unionist paramilitary sources have corroborated to him the claims made by Mr Brown.
Mr McCord snr raised his concerns about the investigation into his son’s death when he met Taoiseach Bertie Ahern in Dublin recently.
The Ombudsman’s report, which will be completed in the summer, is said to be more controversial and far-reaching than her report into how the RUC handled the inquiry into the Real IRA bombing of Omagh. That exposed huge failings in the RUC inquiry and had major security and political implications.
The critical element of O’Loan’s work is to find to what extent members of Special Branch colluded with the UVF. Her inquiry began as an examination of how police handled the investigation into the suspected UVF murder of Mr McCord in November 1997.
The BIRW has become so alarmed by the scale of the allegations that it has compiled its own report on the killings, which it has sent to the Ombudsman, the Independent Monitoring Commission, Northern Secretary Peter Hain, US peace process special envoy Dr Mitchell Reiss, and the US Congress.
The killing period runs from January 17th, 1993, to October 31st, 2000. Mr Brown said the UVF man was a Special Branch agent over that period.
The BIRW said that if Mrs O’Loan substantiates the allegations, an independent inquiry must be held.
Raymond McCord jnr was battered to death on November 9th, 1997. His body was dumped in Ballyduff Quarry in Newtownabbey, north of Belfast. He was so badly beaten he could not be identified by visual means. A key question is how much RUC Special Branch knew about the alleged killer’s activities while he worked for them.
His father, Raymond McCord snr, says his son was murdered on the instructions of a senior, notorious UVF figure from north Belfast, an alleged multiple killer who also worked for the RUC.
“Raymond was lured to the quarry by the UVF,” says Mr McCord. “They spun him a yarn, they told him he was in for a minor punishment shooting, a flesh wound, for a drugs deal he had been involved in that went wrong. Raymond even changed into an old pair of trousers so that his good ones wouldn’t be ruined. They tried to shoot him dead in the quarry but their gun jammed. Then they beat him to death.”
He believes Mrs O’Loan will expose a security dungheap. “I am confident that will happen.”
Johnston Brown says that the same individual was responsible for several other murders. His first alleged victim was Sharon McKenna, a good Samaritan done to death for helping a Protestant friend. She was a 27-year-old Catholic who was shot dead by two UVF gunmen after she had visited the pensioner, just out of hospital, to cook him dinner.
A grim catalogue of murder then runs between January 17th, 1993, when Ms McKenna was murdered, and October 31st, 2000, when former Ulster Democratic Party politician Tommy English was shot dead in the UDA/UVF loyalist feud of that period.
Raymond McCord, who has been fighting this battle for about eight years, wants the former UVF chief “to spend so long in jail that he dies there”, and some former Special Branch officers to join him behind bars. “After that I can get on with my life.”