Survivors and families of the victims of the Glenanne Gang have called for justice for the victims of British collusion and have denounced a proposed amnesty for British state crimes in the north of Ireland.
The death squad, responsible for the murders of up to 120 people in the 1970s, was made up of members of the RUC police, the British Army’s UDR and the unionist paramilitary UVF. It operated mainly out of farm buildings in Glenanne, County Armagh.
A group of family members and survivors of the gang met with the 26 County Taoiseach Micheal Martin in Dublin “to speak to the head of the Irish government directly about what needs to be done to ensure justice is secured”, according to Aontú, which organised the visit.
British Direct Ruler Brandon Lewis has reiterated that he is proceeding with the amnesty proposals, which will see access to the courts for victims and survivors closed down and prosecutions against members and agents of the British Crown Forces brought to an end.
In a rare display of unity, the proposals have been rejected by all political parties in the north of Ireland. They have also been opposed by all victims groups, by the European Human Rights Commissioner, UN Rapporteurs and influential members of the US Congress.
Aontú leader Peader Tóibín said: “Nearly 25 years since the end of the Troubles, it is simply unacceptable that there has been no investigation has been completed into the 120 bloody murders carried out by the Glenanne Gang, which claimed the lives of so many innocent Catholics.
“The Miami Showband Massacre, the sectarian murders of the Reavey and O’Dowd families, the Dublin and Monaghan bombs – the list goes on. We urged the Irish government to raise these cases with the British government.
“Many of the families of those who have been murdered are getting to an age where they don’t have long to live. It’s key that renewed pressure is placed on the British government to reveal what happened”.
Mr Tóibín said the group also urged the coalition government to ensure that information in the hands of Garda police are made available to the investigation team headed by Jon Boutcher.
“Shocking there is information in the hands of the Gardaí that is not being made available, and this needs to change,” he said.
One of those who took part, Aontú deputy leader Denise Mullen, said survivors, victims and the families of victims of the Glenanne Gang “deserve justice”.
“My father was murdered in cold blood, and only last week was I in court to see his killer imprisoned for his death threats against me. The troubles may be over, but the troubles of the past are still unresolved.
“At this very time, Boris Johnson and his Tory government are determined to ensure British crimes in the North are never met with justice, and that the truth of British collusion with loyalist paramilitaries remains unknown.”
Her father, SDLP activist Denis Mullen, was shot dead by members of the UVF at his home near Moy, County Tyrone in September 1976. The killing was one of those carried out by the Glenanne Gang.
Ms Mullen spoke this week of her own relief after one of her father’s killers, Garfield Beattie, was returned to jail for sending her a threatening letter to her signed “East Tyrone UVF’.
Beattie was returned to jail for 15 months, which he is appealing. He has been refused bail pending the appeal.
Ms Mullen welcomed the end of what she described as “nightmare” and was “relieved it’s all over”.
She said: “The judge called him out for what he was, he could see he had no remorse or empathy.”
During the case, Beattie admitted that “every Catholic murdered in Armagh and Tyrone was murdered by British Army weapons.”
Ms Mullen said: “What more evidence is needed for an official investigation into collusion related deaths?
“A British government-sponsored death squad made up of Loyalist terrorists, members of the British Military in Ireland and RUC officers, murdered over 120 innocents across the North of Ireland.
“The Miami Showband Massacre, the sectarian murders of the Reavey and O’Dowd families, the Dublin and Monaghan bombs, the murder of my father.
“The Barron Report stated RUC officers and UDR soldiers were involved in the Dublin Monaghan bombings, but the British government blocked the Inquiry’s investigation into the role of British collusion.
“Two public inquiries in Britain concluded that British security officials were involved in the murder of Pat Finucane. The list goes on, and the evidence mounts.
“There is no excuse for the Irish government and Stormont Executive not to institute an All-Ireland inquiry into all the deaths that British collusion caused.”