Northern Ireland

Mother of Damien Walsh calls on former UDA leader Johnny Adair to reveal what he knows about the murder of her son

UDA murder victim Damien Walsh
UDA murder victim Damien Walsh

A WOMAN whose teenage son was shot dead by loyalists has called on former UDA leader Johnny Adair to "divulge whatever information" he may have about the attack.

Damien Walsh (17) was gunned down by 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.

In a report published yesterday Police Ombudsman Marie Anderson said there were "significant investigative failures" and evidence of "collusive behaviours" by police in relation to the murder.

Ms Anderson believes that information was not shared with investigators to “safeguard sources of information” and that consequently the murder probe was “impeded”.

The ombudsman also confirmed that the UDA was receiving “targeting information directly from British intelligence".

Significantly, she also reveals that in late June 1993 intelligence was received that "police were providing information to loyalists about individuals in west Belfast".

“Two incidents were referred to, one of which was Damien’s murder,” she said.

It has now emerged that three days before the murder, on March 22, an RUC surveillance operation targeting 'C Company' was withdrawn before resuming again on March 30.

During that time Mr Walsh and Sinn Féin member Peter Gallagher, from Toome in Co Antrim, were shot dead by 'C company'.

There were also two attempted murders.

In her report Ms Anderson refers to a key 'C Company' figure referred to as Person A.

The report reveals that police were in receipt of intelligence from a number of sources indicating that Person A was frustrated that his attempts to mount attacks in west Belfast "were being prevented by a heightened police presence".

Ms Anderson confirmed that intelligence "concerning his personal involvement in ‘targeting’, indicated the pivotal role he performed in planning attacks by ‘C’ Company".

While police intelligence indicated the involvement of seven named individuals in the murder, Person A was not among them.

Although he is not identified in the report Damien Walsh's mother Marian believes it may be a reference to former UDA boss Adair.

In 1995 he was convicted of directing terrorism and in 2003 was forced to flee his Shankill Road base after an internal UDA feud.

He now lives in Scotland.

Ms Walsh believes the former loyalist leader should divulge what he knows.

"I think for the sake of achieving a peaceful situation in Northern Ireland I think he should divulge whatever information he has and take it from there," she said.

"Stand up, man up and let us know what happened and who was involved."

Mrs Walsh said the PSNI should reinvestigate the murder of her son.

"The case should be opened up again and the DNA evidence that's already there should be examined again," he said.

"It's all part of the search for justice, it's really necessary to open up those avenues."

Her solicitor Kevin Winters, of KRW Law, said he intends to write to the PSNI.

"It is wholly unsatisfactory to have obtained a report like this for it not to be actioned," he said.

"If the chief constable is serious about legacy matters he ought to be looking at this report and taking steps to action it."

Mr Winters said he was examining the report with a view to its impact on other cases.

Mr Walsh and other victims of the Troubles were remembered at an event in the Dairy Farm complex yesterday.

Mike Ritchie from Relatives for Justice (RFJ) said collusion was always suspected.

"RFJ has always asserted that the RUC, and its Special Branch in particular, were involved in collusion in this case," he said.

"We made this charge in our report on Damien’s murder some years which we completed with the family.

"The Police Ombudsman’s findings vindicate RFJ’s and the family's allegations."

Alliance Party Policing Board member John Blair said the report showed that British government plans for a Troubles amnesty are a bad idea.

“This is further proof of just how bad an idea the UK government’s proposals to essentially draw a line under the Troubles and move on are," he said.

"Victims and survivors, and their families, deserve the option of justice but in addition, they deserve the truth about what happened to their loved ones.

"If these proposals came to pass, Damien Walsh’s family, as well as many others, would have that option taken off the table.”

SDLP west Belfast representative Paul Doherty backed calls for a new investigation.

"Now the Ombudsman’s report has been published there should be a new investigation into Damien’s murder and the circumstances surrounding it, he said.

"It’s the very least his family deserve.”

The PSNI said it "will now carefully consider the Police Ombudsman’s report with a view to identifying appropriate next steps.”

A spokesman for the Police Ombudsman last night said: "We cannot provide any information about the identities of those who are not identified by name in our reports."