Northern Ireland

Damien Walsh’s mother believes her murdered teenage son was 'victim of collusion'

Marian Walsh reads a Police Ombudsman report into the murder of her son Damien. Picture by Hugh Russell.
Marian Walsh reads a Police Ombudsman report into the murder of her son Damien. Picture by Hugh Russell.

THE mother of loyalist murder victim Damien Walsh last night welcomed the findings of a Police Ombudsman's report which she said indicated her son was a victim of "collusion".

Marian Walsh was speaking after Marie Anderson identified “collusive behaviour” on the part of police in a report into the murder.

Her 17-year-old son was shot by Johnny Adair's notorious ‘C Company' as he worked at the Dairy Farm shopping centre near Twinbrook on the outskirts of west Belfast on March 25 1993.

Mrs Walsh last night said she believes what she has been told sits with definitions of collusion previously produced by Canadian judge Peter Cory and Sir John Stevens in the past.

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“The facts that they gave me fit in with the definition of collusion as propounded by Cory and Stevens, shows there was collusion,” she said.

“So, I am pleased that that has at last been acknowledged.

“All the suspicions I had about what was going on all along, that was confirmed too in the report.

“Who did it and why they did lit and the way the RUC mishandled the situation.”

Ms Walsh said that while she is relieved by the report’s conclusions, the process was tinged with sadness.

“I am relieved too but it’s also really sad because when you are going down to it (Police Ombudsman’s Office) it’s almost as if someone is going to give you Damien back.

“And then you go in and you think, God, this is just to tell me what happened.

“I’m not getting him back

“It revives all those old memories."

Ms Walsh said that while no prosecutions are planned she is hopeful that DNA and other evidence could be re-examined at some point in the future.

She was critical of recent British government proposals to introduce a Troubles' amnesty and stop all civil cases and inquests.

“It’s so unfair, it’s so wrong - it’s immoral,” she said.

“We have got this far now and by right it should only be the beginning of a process now whereby the people who are responsible, and I don’t mean just the gunmen…they should be brought all to book,” she said.

“It doesn’t look like that is going to happen, they are all trying to protect themselves.”

Police Ombudsman Marie Anderson said she believes the report "sets out in detail all of the circumstances in relation to Damien’s murder and also sets out importantly my views on failings by the RUC and I have used the phrase in the report collusive behaviours that I have identified".

She said the “most important finding in the report is that the police failed Damien and his family".

“And they failed not only in relation to dealing with the heightened threat that was posed by ‘C Company’ of the UDA/UFF in the run up to Damien’s murder, they failed in removing the surveillance of that ‘C Company’ despite the heightened threat," she said.

“And they failed to reassess the risks to the nationalist community of west Belfast.

“So, that’s a significant failing.”

She also raised concerns about the “wholly inadequate forensic strategy employed by the RUC” pointing out that no “suspects homes were searched”.

Mike Ritchie from Relatives for Justice said: “This report is an example of what the British government is seeking to stop, the emergence of information for families about the role of the RUC, the British army and British intelligence services during the conflict.

“It would be outrageous if their plans to halt independent investigations such as those by the Police Ombudsman were to be implemented.”

Kevin Winters of KRW Law said: "The findings demonstrate that the investigation was all about intelligence and agent-protection at the expense of finding the killers of Damien Walsh."