Loyalists planned killings before and after ceasefire


In 2005, ten years after the organisation declared a ‘ceasefire’, the unionist paramilitary UVF continued to gather personal information on leading republicans with the intention of targeting them for assassination.

Details of a dossier of information with names, addresses and personal information on hardline republicans were revealed this week by so-called UVF ‘supergrass’ Gary Haggarty.

The details were revealed in court papers linked to Haggarty (pictured), who has turned state’s evidence. The 42-year-old faces a record 212 charges relating to his time in the Mount Vernon UVF in north Belfast, under the leadership of police Special Branch agent Mark Haddock.

One of the charges includes information in his possession on December 31 2004, including “a document containing information relating to the names of dissident republican targets”. The names on the document have not been made public.

But in other documents, loyalists plotted to assassinate senior Sinn Fein supporters and a high-profile community worker in the weeks before and after their 1994 ‘ceasefire’.

This week saw the 20th anniversary of that statement by the so-called ‘Combined Loyalist Military Command’.

Among those named as potential UVF targets in 1994 are leading Ardoyne republicans Eddie Copeland and Paul De Lucia; Leo Martin, one of the founding members of the Provisional IRA, who died in February 2011, and New Lodge brothers Michael and John Donnelly, who both survived previous loyalist murder bids.

The Donnelly brothers were also being targeted shortly after the ceasefire statement of October 13 1994, confirming the bogus nature of that statement. Haggarty also revealed that the Mount Vernon UVF planned to murder community worker Liam Maskey, a brother of both West Belfast Sinn Fein MP Paul Maskey.

Haggarty is now believed to be living at a secret location in England. He is expected to plead guilty to conspiring to murder Copeland and de Lucia on dates between March and July 1994.

Mr Copeland said neither the police nor prosecutors had informed him he was to be named on the charge sheets.

“The information they had was totally false, they named places I’d never even been in. I’d no idea Haggarty was to be charged with trying to kill me. No-one has ever informed me it was to be among his charges.

“I now think that Haggarty’s handlers were feeding him false information in order to stoke things up and have me killed before the loyalist ceasefire.”

The list of charges spanning a 16-year period between 1991 and 2007 presents a remarkable insight into the workings of the Mount Vernon gang under the leadership of double-agent Haddock. They include involvement in five murders, including that of Sean McDermott, a 37-year-old Catholic killed in a sectarian attack in August 1994.

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