Unionist to address Sinn Féin conference

The father of a man murdered by a loyalist gang riddled with police informers will today become the first person from a unionist background to address Sinn Féin’s annual conference.

The father of a man murdered by a loyalist gang riddled with police informers will today become the first person from a unionist background to address Sinn Féin’s annual conference.

Raymond McCord, whose son also called Raymond was murdered by an Ulster Volunteer Force gang, will address Sinn Féin members in Dublin on the issue of security force collusion.

A report last year by the former Northern Police Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan alleged Royal Ulster Constabulary Special Branch officers running informers in the gang based in north Belfast allowed them to kill over a dozen people including Raymond McCord Junior.

And as he prepared to address Sinn Féin, Mr McCord challenged Ian Paisley’s Democratic Unionists and the UVF-linked Progressive Unionist Party to offer him the same platform to discuss collusion at their party conferences.

“My politics and Sinn Fein’s politics are vastly different,” he told PA.

“I am not going down to this conference to appease Sinn Fein.

“However I will use whatever platform I am given to raise the issue of security force collusion.

“Irrespective of who the party is, if they invite me to address them on what happened to my son and on the issue of collusion I will not turn my back on that opportunity.

“So I am challenging the DUP and also the PUP to give me an opportunity to address their party conferences.”

The Police Ombudsman’s report claimed UVF members in the Mount Vernon area committed murders and other serious crimes while working as informers for Special Branch.

Her report also claimed officers ensured the murderers were not caught and even “baby-sat” them during police interviews to help them avoid incriminating themselves.

The ombudsman’s investigation was sparked by a complaint by Mr McCord, a welder by trade, that a police informer murdered his son.

Raymond McCord Jnr, a 22-year-old former member of the RAF, was beaten to death in 1997 and his body dumped in a quarry on the outskirts of north Belfast.

Mr McCord said: “I will be asking why did so many people have to die, including my son, when there were so many agents working for both republican and loyalist paramilitary organisations?”

Sinn Féin’s annual conference will take place against the backdrop of the party’s participation in government in Northern Ireland but disappointing performance in the Irish Republic’s General Election last year.

Stormont Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness will brief delegates on his work in the power sharing executive alongside Ian Paisley and the party’s campaign for Irish reunification.

Dublin MEP Mary Lou McDonald will also deliver a keynote address on the party’s opposition to the European Union’s Lisbon Treaty in the forthcoming referendum in the Irish Republic.

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