Republican News · Thursday 19 March 1998

[An Phoblacht]

Collusion conspiracy exposed

Investigative journalist to publish devastating revelations

By Laura Friel

High ranking RUC and locally recruited British Army officers ran a campaign of political and sectarian assassinations against Northern nationalists in the late 1980s and early `90s, according to investigative journalist Sean McPhilemy.

Senior Unionist politicians, named in his forthcoming book, The Committee, were aware of, or assisted the group, says McPhilemy. A covert loyalist organisation, the Ulster Loyalist Central Coordinating Committee, whose sixty members were drawn from a cross section of the unionist community, selected targets and assisted loyalist gunmen to execute the kills.

According to McPhilemy, Committee members included senior officers of the RUC and UDR/RIR officers, prominent businessmen, solicitors, politicians and clergymen, who availed the services of loyalist assassins known as The Jackal and King Rat (Billy Wright).

A primary source of information, believed to have been used by McPhilemy, names a third loyalist killer, formally a close public associate of Wright and currently believed to be leader of the LVF, as a member of the Committee.

A leading political figure within Unionism, prominent during the Drumcree crisis of 1995 and whose name is known to An Phoblacht, is named by McPhilemy as one of five ``Committee Associates''. McPhilemy accuses the senior Unionist politician of protecting the murder conspirators and dubs him leader of the political wing of the ULCCC. If a libel case currently being taken by McPhilemy against `The Sunday Times' proceeds to London's High Court, some of those named in the book will be called to the witness box. The senior Unionist politican named in the book, ``would be given the opportunity to respond'', says McPhilemy.

``If McPhilemy is right, then the RUC is as corrupt as the police forces in El Salvador and Chile which ran their own death squads during civil wars there,'' concludes a critic in the USA who reviewed The Committee.

Sean McPhilemy is an award winning documentry journalist and his book is set to take Irish America by storm. Publication outside the constraints of British libel laws has allowed McPhilemy to name names. Twenty three members and five associate members of the covert committee are identifed in the book. A RUC Assistant Chief Constable and Head of Special Branch (retired) is named as a member and two RUC Inspectors are named as associate members. A source also names a further three RUC officers, as well as two majors in the RIR.

Central to the Committee was the involvement of an `Inner Force' within the RUC controlled by a group of senior RUC officers, the `Inner Circle'. According to McPhilemy, the RUC Inner Force ``routinely assisted the Loyalist death squads to assassinate Republicans and Catholics whom the Committee had selected for elimination''.

Evidence of a covert grouping known as the `Inner Force' within the RUC first came to public attention at the height of the collusion controversy of 1989. On 2 October 1989 in an interview carried by the Irish News, an unidentified RUC officer claimed a secret grouping within the RUC had been formed with the twin aim of ``removing suspected terrorists'' and ``bringing down the Anglo-Irish Agreement''. The group claimed to have members in every RUC division across the Six Counties. A year later, a documentry made for Channel Four's `Dispatches' programme reiterated earlier claims of an RUC Inner Force. The film company who made the documentry for Channel Four, was Sean McPhilemy's `Box Productions'.

``Collusion between the Loyalists and the RUC/UDR Inner Force was formal, structured and systematic,'' writes McPhilemy, ``involving an unknown but sizable proportion of the locally recruited security services in Northern Ireland.''

The documentry and later the book details four specific loyalist murder attacks claiming direct involvement of the Committee and the RUC's `Inner Force'.

1) The murder of Sam Marshall and attempted murder of Colin Duffy and Tony McCaughey, 2) murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane, 3) the Cappagh murders and 4) the sectarian murder of Denis Carville. The murder of Denis Carville was planned by the Committee as a `revenge' attack for the IRA killing of a UDR soldier, Colin McCullough. ``They wanted someone who was in the same situation, a young man sitting with his girlfriend in the car..''

In the book, McPhilemy alleges that two on-duty RUC officers belonging to the `Inner Force', acting on instructions from `The Committee', selected a victim by checking his licence plate and running the details through the RUC computer to confirm it was registered to a person living in a Catholic estate. According to McPhilemy, they then met Billy Wright at a nearby hotel, guided him to the site and pointed out the car where Carville was sitting.

The `operation' to murder three Lurgan Republicans was discussed by the Committee in an East Tyrone hotel three weeks prior to the attack, claims the author. The Committee selected a loyalist gunman,''The Jackal'', to lead the death squad but left the organisation of the attack to members of the RUC. A source claimed RUC officers were in two cars at the scene. This claim was later confirmed during an extradition hearing in the USA.

Speaking to An Phoblacht, Colin Duffy said at the time of Sam Marshall's death allegations of crown force collusion were dismissed by many people as `Republican propaganda' but ``growing evidence, which has come to light over many years, increasingly confirms our initial analysis to be correct. Collusion has often been portrayed as the result of individual rogue elements,'' says Duffy, ``but clearly, collusion in loyalist killings is structured, organised and lies at the heart of the sectarian operation of this Six county state.''

Collusion catalogue

McPhilemy lists 18 murders carried out by the Ulster Loyalist Central Co ordinating Committee between 1989 to September 1991

  • Patrick Finucane, Belfast solicitor shot dead Feb'89
  • Sam Marshall, Lurgan Republican shot dead March `90
  • Denis Carville, Lurgan Catholic shot dead Oct'90
  • Tommy Casey, Cookstown Sinn Fein member shot dead Oct'90
  • Dwayne O'Donnell, John Quinn, Malcolm Nugent, Thomas Armstrong, Cappagh, shot dead March `91
  • Eileen Duffy, Catriona Rennie, Brian Frizzell, Craigavon Catholics shot dead April `91
  • John O'Hara, Belfast taxi driver, shot dead April'91
  • Eddie Fullerton, Donegal Sinn Fein Councillor, shot dead May `91
  • James Carson, Belfast newsagent shot dead Aug `91
  • Patrick Shanaghan, Castlederg Sinn Fein, shot dead Aug `91
  • Thomas Donaghy, Kilrea Sinn Fein member, shot dead Aug `91
  • Martin O'Prey, Belfast IPLO, shot dead Aug `91
  • Bernard O'Hagan, Magherafelt Sinn Fein Councillor, Sept `91

A second appendix lists a further 30 loyalist murder victims killed between Oct `91 to Aug `94 and a further murder in July `96. According to the book `The Committee' controlled Loyalist death squads throughout this period.

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