by Colin O’Carroll (for Daily Ireland)
The confession by the former north Belfast Ulster Volunteer Force man Mark Haddock that he has been a Special Branch informer for the last 16 years is further damning evidence of the collusion between the British government’s intelligence services and loyalist paramilitaries.
Reports have linked Haddock, who survived a murder bid on Tuesday, with as many as 20 murders since the early 1990s. All those murdered were Catholic and Protestant civilians. They include 27-year-old Sharon McKenna and north Belfast man Raymond McCord Jr.
It has been the determination of Raymond McCord Sr to get justice for his son that led more than anything to Haddock’s outing as a Special Branch agent.
The father’s pursuit of the case in the face of cover-up and lies from the RUC and its successor the PSNI led to Labour Party leader Pat Rabbitte naming Haddock as a Special Branch agent in the Dail last year. Rabbitte said the loyalist had been responsible for several murders and a bomb attack in the Republic.
The North’s Police Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan is investigating the circumstances of the McCord murder but it is clear that any investigation into Haddock’s murder campaigns needs to be far more wide-ranging, given the extent of his Special Branch involvement.
The public has a right to know exactly who in Special Branch and the British intelligence services gave this man the right to murder and arrange to have people murdered with impunity.
The British government needs to come clean on just how high up the political and legal establishments the decisions were made to cover up Haddock’s foul deeds.
The Irish government too must demand the release of all documents relating to the involvement of Haddock and his intelligence handlers in attacks on a sovereign friendly state.
Of course, the British government will continue to resist all calls to come clean on its role in the murder of citizens within its jurisdiction, as it has in the cases of Pat Finucane, Rosemary Nelson, the Dublin-Monaghan bombings of 1974 and the murder of hundreds of innocents in the North as a result of collusion.
However, the Irish government must continue to press for an international independent inquiry into a system that at times provided a conveyor belt of victims to the loyalist murder gangs.
The fact that so many of Mark Haddock’s victims were fellow loyalists or Protestants will not be lost on those within that community, such as Raymond McCord Sr and the family of the Tandragee teenager David McIlwaine, whose loved ones were murdered at the behest of loyalists in the pay of the state.
Haddock has survived the attempt by his former colleagues to silence him. The British government and the PSNI must not be allowed to complete that process by spiriting Haddock away and giving him a new identity to ensure he never speaks of his sordid double life.