UDA gang ‘getting British protection’

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The unionist paramilitary UDA are a focus of the impunity bid being planned by the British government, it has been alleged.

The son of man murdered by the UDA said he believes those who killed his father are being protected by the state.

Seamus Gallagher’s father Peter (44), who was a member of Sinn Féin, was gunned down as he arrived for work in west Belfast on March 24 1993.

The father-of-seven was a well-known and popular figure in Toome, County Antrim, where he lived with his family.

The murder took place a day before 17-year-old Damien Walsh was shot dead by the UDA’s notorious ‘C Company’ at the Dairy Farm shopping centre near Twinbrook on the outskirts of west Belfast.

Last week Police Ombudsman Marie Anderson found that there were “collusive behaviours” by the Crown Forces in relation to that murder.

Mr Gallagher is believed to have been shot and killed by the same gunman who escaped on a bicycle. His son Seamus said his family only became aware of a surveillance operation on ‘C Company’ through the publication of the Walsh report.

“If the surveillance had been kept daddy would be alive today,” he said. “Why was it kept in the dark, we didn’t know anything about it until (this week).”

Mr Gallagher, whose mother Bernie died on March 25 this year, said he was also unaware of other details contained in the report. He believes those who killed his father continue to be protected and was critical of British government plans for a conflict amnesty.

“I believe the murderers of my father are still walking the streets and getting protected,” he said.

“That’s why they want this amnesty, to keep them out of the public eye and cover up their dirty past.”

He was also critical of the RUC (now PSNI) police.

“At the end of the day those boys (loyalists) got a free run to murder,” he said.

“They (police) might have changed their name but to me they are still the same with their hollow apologies.”

Mr Gallagher said he will be pushing to have a Police Ombudsman report into the murder of his father completed as soon as possible.

Mike Ritchie from Relatives for Justice said: “The information provided to the family in this Police Ombudsman report is hard to bear.

“The RUC knew that the killers were armed, were determined to kill Catholics in west Belfast but were frustrated by the surveillance which was interfering in their plans.

“For the RUC to lift that surveillance was asking for trouble and that is what the Gallagher family got.”

Stephen McKeag of the UDA’s ‘C Company’, who is thought to have pulled the trigger of the gun which who shot Peter Gallagher and Damien Walsh, has taken his secrets to the grave.

Hopes for any truth recovery suffered a further setback this week when former ‘C Company’ leader Johnny Adair, who has been rumoured to be already in possession of a pardon from the multiple collusion allegations against him, has refused to meet anyone in connection with the murders.

CAMERA ‘DISABLED’

Meanwhile, further details of a UDA killing have emerged. Security cameras which could have captured the murder of a Catholic postman in Belfast more than 12 years ago were disabled when the UDA struck, an inquest has been told.

Daniel McColgan was shot dead by loyalist terrorists as he arrived for work at a sorting office on the outskirts of the city in January 2002.

The father-of-one was hit multiple times in the head and body as he lay face down on the ground.

Friends and members of the McColgan family wiped away tears as details of his injuries were read to the court last week. His mother, Marie McColgan, did not live to see the inquest she wanted held.

Coroner John Leckey said it was unclear whether the security camera system had malfunctioned, if the record button had not been pressed, or the camera had been tampered with.

He added: “It should have recorded the events surrounding Daniel McColgan’s murder. The fact that it didn’t is due to either a malfunction, or some individual had access to the camera and deselected the record button.”

Nobody was even convicted of the shooting, initially claimed by the Red Hand Commando, a cover name for the UDA.

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