One of the UVF’s most senior members has turned ‘supergrass’ and is ready to give evidence against other members of the loyalist murder gang, it has been revealed.
A Belfast court was told that former self-styled ‘brigadier’ Gary Haggarty is seeking to become an ‘assisted offender’.
Haggarty, who is awaiting trial for his part in the brutal murder of Protestant man John Harbison in 1997, will also be legally compelled to admit to every offence he committed during his 26-year career in the UVF.
He was a senior member of the group’s notorious Mount Vernon gang for nearly two decades, rising to become Its north Belfast ‘brigadier’ almost 10 years ago.
Throughout that time the UVF was responsible for some of the worst sectarian atrocities of the conflict.
In 2007 Haggarty was identified by the then police ombudsman, Nuala O’Loan, as one of two figures within the Mount Vernon UVF who had been protected from belng prosecuted for multiple murders because they were working as Special Branch agents.
In February 1994 two UVF gunmen shot and fatally wounded Catholic man Sean McParland as he babysat grandchildren at his daughter’s house in north Belfast.
The ombudsman found that the Special Branch police were aware within hours that Haggarty and another informer, Mark Haddock had been the gunmen, but had protected them from prosecution.
The men were both promoted to senior positions within the UVF as a direct result of the murder.
Baroness O’Loan concluded that Special Branch’s decision to continue running Haggarty and Haddock as informers, despite overwhelming evidence of their involvement in multiple murders, was “indicative of collusion”.
In August 2009 there was said to be panic within the UVF leadership when Haggarty again presented himself to the police and was charged with the murder of Harbinson.
Yesterday, a Belfast court was told that he had now fully admitted his role as a UVF ‘brigadier’ and was cooperating with police. It was confirmed that he wants to become an “assisted offender’, more commonly known as a supergrass.
His evidence Is also expected to reveal even more about the collusion between RUC Special Branch and its informers and agents in numerous killings, including the high profile murder of Raymond McCord Jr.
His father claimed that more arrests would follow in the near future.
“People laughed at me when I told them all those years ago that Haddock and Haggarty were informers,” Raymond McCord Snr said.
“They laughed at me again last year when I predicted that Haggarty would turn supergrass.
“I’m telling those same people now that senior people In the UVF will be arrested and charged In the near future.
“Then we’ll see who’s laughing.”