McCord family demands independent collusion inquiry

The family of one of at least 10 people killed by loyalists who were working as Special Branch informers today demanded a fully independent inquiry into collusion.

The family of one of at least 10 people killed by loyalists who were working as Special Branch informers today demanded a fully independent inquiry into collusion.

Raymond McCord snr, whose son Raymond jnr featured in today’s damning report by Police Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan, vowed to continue the family’s fight to get justice.

Mr McCord snr said: “This report is not the end of our struggle to get justice for young Raymond.

“It is the means by which we can go forward to get justice and uncover the truth so that these horrible deeds will never be allowed to happen again.

“To such ends whilst my family are disappointed that there would appear to be no criminal prosecutions against rogue police officers, we note the report recommendation to reinvestigate murders connected to this inquiry with optimism.

“Our demands go much further than a criminal trial.

“We now intend to petition the Secretary of State (for Northern Ireland) for a fully independent international judicial inquiry into my son’s murder and to other victims of state collusion.”

Today's report found serious failures in the Special Branch’s handling of informers in an Ulster Volunteer Force gang operating in north Belfast.

Raymond McCord jnr was beaten to death and his body dumped at a quarry on the outskirts of Belfast in November 1997.

His father believed an informer within the UVF gang operating out of the Mount Vernon estate in North Belfast was involved and that he was being protected by the police because he was a Special Branch agent.

His complaint to the Police Ombudsman sparked a report.

Mr McCord said it had been a difficult day for him and his family.

“To have lost a son at the hands of brutal killers was a tragedy but to have now been informed that those killers were protected by the police is heartbreaking for us,” he said.

“Those in whom we placed our trust betrayed us and as a result my son and many other victims lost their lives.

“Both Catholic and Protestant victims were betrayed by the state.”

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams looked on as Mr McCord gave his reaction to Mrs O’Loan’s report.

He said that he was not looking for an unwieldy, long-winded inquiry.

He also said he was looking for an explanation from British Prime Minister Tony Blair as to why the police officers identified in today’s report would not be prosecuted.

“I want Tony Blair and the Attorney General to sit in front of my family and tell me why these police officers will not be charged,” he said.

“I want them to tell me and my family why the people who murdered my son were never charged.”

Mr McCord said the inquiry into collusion between the security forces and loyalists on killings should be set up in line with the recommendations made by retired Canadian judge Peter Cory and not under the Inquiries Act.

“We feel this will be the only type of inquiry that will satisfy the victims of collusion,” he said.

“I would call on any other victims of collusion to join me and for members of Special Branch to come forward and assist this inquiry.

“History will show this time as a defining time in the development of policing in Northern Ireland.

“The people need to have an independent inquiry to ensure these things will never happen again and to have absolute confidence in policing structures and policy carried out in our name.”

Mr McCord was scathing in his criticism of former Chief Constable Ronnie Flanagan, arguing that if he had knowledge about what was going on in Special Branch he should face charges.

He also called for the removal of Mr Flanagan from his post and for him to be stripped of his knighthood.

Mr McCord also called on the Ulster Volunteer Force to expel members of the Mount Vernon gang and hand them over to the police to help the investigation into his son's murder.

“We do not want a battle with the UVF but we are not going to run away from justice,” he said.

“The ball is in the court of the UVF.”

It also emerged that Relatives For Justice were today consulting legal advisers about the possibility of taking civil proceedings against the former Chief Constable Sir Ronnie Flanagan.

Spokesman Mark Thompson said the group was also asking current Chief Constable Hugh Orde: “How can he have confidence in Ronnie Flanagan in his current role in Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary where he is to set the standards of policing?”

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