A delegation of international human rights workers have come to the North to probe allegations that members of the Crown forces colluded with unionists in a series of murders during the 1970s.
The team of investigators arrived in the North on Saturday and has already begun meeting families of people killed by the gang.
They were invited to Ireland by the Derry-based Pat Finucane Centre and will be carrying out their investigation into allegations of collusion with the notorious loyalist ‘Glenanne gang’ over the next two weeks
The Glenanne group has been linked to four car bombs planted by the Ulster Volunteer Force which killed 33 people in Dublin and Monaghan.
The gang has also been accused of carrying out murders in counties Armagh, Tyrone and other border counties.
The cases were featured in the recent ‘Spotlight’ documentary. They include the bomb and gun attacks on bars in Silverbridge, Dundalk and Granemore, the murders of two Gaelic football fans at Altnamackin, and the murders of several members of the O’Dowd and Reavey families.
The investigation team is led by Professor Douglass Cassel, president of the board of directors of the Justice Studies Center of the Americas and director for the Centre for Human Rights in Chicago.
Other members include Piers Pigou who worked with the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Susie Kemp, a barrister who was the legal director of the Centre for Human Rights Legal Rights Action in Guatemala and Steve Sawyer, a former prosecutor and legal counsel to the Centre for International Human Rights at North Western University in Chicago.
Paul O’Connor of the Pat Finucane Centre said the delegation are compiling a dossier into the activities of this gang and on collusion.
“The dossier will be completed later this year and the British and Irish Governments will be given time to read the contents and respond.
“The purpose of this visit is two-fold. We want to give the families of those murdered a chance to tell an international delegation what they believe and the panel to judge from the testimonies what case there is to answer.
“We also want to see if the panel can uncover through meetings with the police, the DPP, the courts service, the corners what we have not been able to discover.”
Alan Brecknell of the Pat Finucane Centre said they had been researching the activities of the group for some time.
“The full extent of the links, both ballistically and through personnel, is shocking beyond belief,” he said.
“The work of the delegation will also focus on linked attacks including the murders of Patrick Falls, Patrick Connolly, John Francis Green, the Miami Showband ambush, the bomb attacks at Killyliss and Castleblaney and Mc Ardles Bar in Crossmaglen and the gun attack on the Eagle Bar in Charlemont.
“The list goes on. In all we believe that over 100 deaths can be traced back to permutations of the same gang.”