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Glenanne families have received no contact from PSNI since landmark ruling

Relatives of those killed by a loyalist gang in the Glenanne area of Armagh in the 1970's pictured at the High Court in Belfast in July following a landmark ruling. Picture Bill Smyth.

RELATIVES of victims of the Glenanne Gang have criticised police over their failure to contact them to offer a fresh investigation into the murders despite a critical High Court ruling.

In July a judge held that victims’ families were denied in their legitimate expectation that the now-defunct Historical Enquiries Team (HET) would publish an overarching thematic report on the loyalist gang's killing spree throughout the 1970s.

The notorious loyalist unit is thought to have been responsible for more than 100 murders in the Armagh and Tyrone areas.

Mr Justice Treacy ruled police had breached their obligation to probe allegations of State collusion with the loyalist gang when they halted a cold case investigation before it could complete its work.

The case against the PSNI was taken by Edward Barnard whose 13 year-old brother Patrick was among four people killed in a bomb attack in Dungannon, Co Tyrone in 1976.

Lawyers were given until the start of September to try to agree on the appropriate form of relief to address the families' concerns in the case.

However that deadline has now passed.

Lawyer Darragh Mackin of KRW Law, who wrote to Chief Constable George Hamilton following the ruling to arrange a meeting, said he has still had no acknowledgement from the PSNI.

"We would have expected at least the offer of a meeting to discuss a way forward at this stage, which is all we initially asked for," he said.

Alan Brecknell, whose father Trevor was killed in an attack on Donnelly's Bar in Silverbridge in December 1975, said he was not surprised at the lack of contact.

"It is, frankly, insulting, unacceptable and damaging to public confidence in the PSNI," he said.

Anne Cadwallader whose book Lethal Allies documents the activities of the loyalist gang, said: "Every day that passes is yet another day when the families are denied their rights."

Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton, Head of PSNI Legacy and Justice Branch, said the judgment was due to be released within the next few weeks.

"Once we receive the judgment we will consider it carefully," he said.

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