A new investigation team is to be set up by the PSNI police, ostensibly to probe the involvement of British forces in sectarian murders in the North.
The unit will be an arm of the PSNI’s Historical Enquiries Team (HET) which says it is reviewing thousands of killings during the conflict.
HET director David Cox told the Dublin parliament that the newly formed “White Team” based in London will examine allegations of collusion.
He revealed details of the new team during an unprecedented address to a sub-committee of the Dublin parliament examining a report on British state collusion in a number of bombings in the 26 Countuies.
PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde also addressed the committee, the first time a Six-County police chief has done so.
Mr Cox said the first series of cases to be passed to the new unit will involve the so-called “Glenanne gang”, which included serving members of the RUC police and the British Army’s UDR. The gang has been linked to the murders of over 70 people.
“As we go through our process with the rest of the HET (files), if collusion becomes an issue in a case, then the White Team will take that,” Cox said.
The announcement was dismissed out of hand by republicans, who have always condemned attempts by the British Crown forces to ‘investigate’ their own crimes.
Meanwhile, the family of murdered Donegal councillor Eddie Fullerton have brought their demands for a public inquiry to a meeting with the 26-County Taoiseach today.
Mr Fullerton was shot dead at his home in Buncrana on May 25th, 1991, in what is believed at the time to be an attack by a Derry-based unionist paramilitary gang in collusion with British forces.
The Taoiseach’s decision to meet the Fullertons comes after intensive campaigning by the family and by Sinn Féin for a full, independent, public inquiry into the case.
Local Sinn Féin councillor Padraig Mac Lochlainn said: “It is vitally important that this meeting at the highest level is simply the first stage in further progressive and productive Government action on Eddie Fullerton’s case.
The issue was raised by Sinn Féin at the multiparty talks at St Andrew’s in Scotland last month.