Northern Ireland

Arrest in Danny Cassidy case branded 'cynical' by loyalist victim's family

THE widow of a Co Derry man murdered by loyalists almost 30 years ago has described the arrest of a suspect a day before the publication of a major Police Ombudsman report into a series of UDA/UFF killings as "cynical".

Danny Cassidy was shot dead by the UDA/UFF in April 1992 as he sat in a car outside his home in Kilrea.

The father-of-four died at the scene from his injuries.

On Thursday, Marie Ombudsman released Operation Greenwich and confirmed there was evidence of "collusive behaviour" by some officers in the murders of 19 people and attempted murder of two others between 1989-1993.

In her report, Ms Anderson said her investigation had established that police held intelligence that Mr Cassidy had been active in the Provisional IRA since the 1970s. She said intelligence received in 1991 described Mr Cassidy as officer commanding in Coleraine.

Ms Anderson also revealed that after the murder, eight men suspected of involvement with the UDA/UFF were arrested and later released without charge.

A number were also arrested in relation to other attacks dealt with in her report.

A day before the report was published, police confirmed that a 57-year-old man had been arrested in the Ballymoney area by detectives from the Legacy Investigation Branch under the Terrorism Act.

He was later taken to Musgrave Street PSNI Station for questioning before being released pending a report to the PPS.

Last night Mr Cassidy's widow Emmanuel Cassidy said her family "was particularly surprised that the PSNI chose the day before the launch of the ombudsman's report to arrest someone in relation to Danny’s murder".

"It is difficult to see this as anything other than a cynical attempt by the police to suggest that that there has been a proper investigation into Danny’s murder," she said.

Ms Cassidy said her family "look forward to a full update from the PSNI as to the state of the investigation".

She also spoke of her hope "that the other families bereaved through the UDA/UFF campaign will also receive the courtesy of updates on the investigations into the murder of their loved ones".

A spokeswoman for the PSNI said: "We have no further comment to make in relation to this matter."

Mike Ritchie from Relatives for Justice said the "shocking levels of collusion between the UDR, RUC and UDA in Co Derry have been difficult for the family, but they have borne their loss with great dignity".

In her report Ms Anderson concluded that police informers were involved in murder and other serious crime and that records relating to the recruitment and management of informers had been destroyed.

Other findings included a failure by police to make people aware of threats to their lives and evidence that UDR officers passed information to loyalists.

Ms Anderson also said there was a failure to pass on intelligence to police officers investigating attacks.