Northern Ireland news

Hurt turns to anger for Operation Achille families

Billy McManus has said the hurt of families has turned to anger. Picture by Mal McCann.
Connla Young

The son of a man murdered at Sean Graham Bookmakers has said that hurt has turned to anger after the Police Ombudsman confirmed there was "collusive behaviour" by the RUC in the atrocity.

Billy McManus was speaking after Police Ombudsman published Operation Achille.

His father William McManus (54) was one of five people who were killed by the UDA on Belfast's Ormeau Road in February 1992.

The others were James Kennedy (15), Christy Doherty (51), Peter Magee (18) and Jack Duffin (66).

Read More: Politicians respond to Operation Achille report

Among her findings Ms Anderson highlighted failures to warn two men that their lives were under threat.

- Confirmed the deliberate destruction of files relating to the attack at Sean Graham bookmakers.

Niall Murphy solicitor at press confernce following the release of the Police Ombudsman report into the loyalist murders in south Belfast 1990-1998 Picture Mal McCann.

- The failure of RUC Special Branch to pass on information to investigators.

- Unjustifiable and continued use by Special Branch of informants involved in serious criminality, including murder and the passive "turning a blind eye" to such activities.

"There's a lot of hurt and a lot of anger to realise how much collusion was involved, not just in Sean Graham Bookmakers, but others who lost loved ones on the Ormeau Road.

"That evidence that would have convicted these killers was deliberately destroyed is stomach churning and that's why it's turning to anger," Mr McManus said.

The Police Ombudsman has identified eight UDA/UFF members linked through intelligence to the murders and attempted murders of 27 people.

Mr McManus said relatives are aware of the identities of those who took part in the killings at Sean Graham Bookmakers and believes they are included in that group of eight. He said those responsible are all still alive.

"They are getting on with their lives and we have to still live with what they done to us every day," he said.

Mr McManus hopes to meet Marie Anderson and chief constable Simon Byrne.

"Hopefully if I get a chance to speak to Simon Byrne, the head of the PSNI, to say to him, why after 30 years have these killers still not been prosecuted and who is protecting them?

"You see after 30 years you realise how bad it was, what really went on and how many murders were covered up during this conflict," he said.

Ms McManus added that relatives are also opposed to the planned British government Troubles amnesty.

"We are going to stand up against this amnesty because this amnesty is just trying to stop this all from coming out and nobody will get justice and truth," he said.

Niall Murphy, of KRW Law, said "these findings represent a further chapter in what now must be considered to be a policy of state collusion with loyalists".

"This report proves that collusion was not a case of a few bad apples, confined to a geographic area," he said.

"We now know from these and other reports, that collusion was systemic policy, in south Down, north, south and west Belfast, south and north Derry, north Antrim and mid Ulster.

"Different police districts at different times with different informers and killers. However the blueprint remained the same, a blueprint now crystallised and evidenced in this report."

Mark Thompson of Relatives for Justice said "it is clear that the same weapons used in killings included in this report were also used in other killings – who will now investigate these other killings?

"Who will hold the pensioned former members of the RUC who refused to cooperate in these investigations to account?

"Far from being a full stop, this report marks a comma in these families’ pursuit of truth and justice."

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