British Army protected UVF ‘Butcher’

The British Army withheld evidence for more than three decades which confirms that some of its locally recruited units were used to finance and support UVF paramilitary death squads.

At least 70 soldiers on one base were linked to the loyalist murder gangs.

According to a report by The Detail, top secret government papers disclose that the British Army’s Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) was heavily infiltrated by the UVF in the late 1970s.

The highly classified document, uncovered by human rights workers from the Pat Finucane Centre in Derry, reveal how:

• British Army chiefs believed that 70 soldiers in one UDR unit were linked to the UVF in west Belfast, including one member of the notorious Shankill Butcher gang;

• One UDR unit was suspected of siphoning off 47 thousand pounds to the UVF while UDR equipment from another unit was regularly passed into the armoury of the death squads;

• UVF members were allowed to socialise at the UDR’s Girdwood barracks social club;

• One collusion ‘investigation’ was suspended after a senior UDR officer warned it was ‘damaging morale’.

However the top secret papers, which were brought to the attention of then British Secretary of State Roy Mason, have been kept hidden for nearly 35 years.

The documents show that British army chiefs took a deliberate decision to cover up evidence exposing the fact that the UDR battalion had been seriously compromised by the UVF, including a serial-killing member of the ‘Shankill Butchers’ gang who carried out over thirty sectarian murders.

The family of one Shankill Butchers’ victim, who was brutally hacked to death in Belfast in 1977, has now challenged the British army to explain why it deliberately covered up the collusion link between the UDR and UVF.

Joseph Morrissey’s daughter Charlotte has called for the information to be released.

“My father and a number of the Shankill Butcher’s other victims were abducted very close to Girdwood barracks,” she explained.

“Every Catholic in north and west Belfast suspected that the authorities were in some way protecting the Shankill Butchers.

“Now these papers prove they had evidence of collusion between the UDR and UVF but they covered it up for 34 years.

“They have treated victims’ families like ourselves with utter contempt by deliberately withholding potential evidence, which for all we know could have identified members of the Shankill Butcher gang who have never brought to justice.

“We will never know, because they chose to deliberately cover everything up.”

Pat Finucane Centre spokesman, Paul O’Connor, questioned the British Army’s refusal to disclose the evidence of collusion.

“The British government was fully aware of the extent of loyalist infiltration of the regiment but decided to turn a blind eye,” he said.

“People continued to die as a direct result.

“The Shankill Butchers continued their reign of terror. It was the ultimate appalling vista.”

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© 2011 Irish Republican News