Northern Ireland news

Mid Ulster families call for public inquiry

Spotlight's investigation has led to calls from victims' families for a public inquiry into their killings

THE families of those murdered by a Mid Ulster based loyalist gang have called for a public inquiry into the deaths of their loved ones.

A BBC Spotlight investigation into the Mid Ulster UVF, under the leadership of Billy Wright, claimed that the RUC were providing information to the gang who were linked to more than 40 murders.

Convicted killer Laurence Maguire makes the claim in the latest BBC One Spotlight documentary, Spotlight on the Troubles - A Secret History - shown last night.

The programme also cites two senior security sources as stating Wright, who was murdered by the INLA in the Maze prison in 1997, was an agent working for both the police and British army.

Wright and senior loyalist Robin Jackson, who has also died, were arrested over the murder of brothers, Gerard and Rory Cairns, at Bleary, near Portadown, in 1993.

They were also linked to the murder of couple Theresa and Charlie Fox at their home in Moy in September 1992.

An autopsy showed Mrs Fox, who was shot dead in her kitchen, had also had suffered a broken jaw after being hit by the butt of a rifle. Her husband was shot as he ran at his wife's killers.

Maguire was convicted in connection with five murders, including that of the couple, who had six children.

A spokesperson for the Mid Ulster families said in light of revelations "we are calling for a full public inquiry into the activities of the Mid Ulster UVF and the state security services.

"The only possible way we can hope to uncover the full facts is through an independent public inquiry, nothing else will suffice."

The programme also showed that rather than random sectarian attacks the victims were targeted as family members of republicans.

"We know from Spotlight's investigation that there were only a handful of people involved in the murders, so we are making a direct appeal to ordinary decent unionists/Protestants to come forward.

"Loyalism isn't about shooting pregnant women in front of their children, isn't about shooting school children in taxis offices, mobiles shops or in their homes, it wasn't about invading homes and trying to annihilate entire families or shooting innocent men going about their days work.

"We know that there are decent unionists out there who are deeply ashamed of these actions. We are asking them to reflect on their consciences and stop protecting these paid state agents by staying silent.

"Ultimately both nationalists and unionists victims are the same. We both seek the same truth and justice for our loved ones", they added.

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