Landmark ruling gives hope to those who have waited 40 years for justice

Posted By: July 30, 2017

Allison Morris. Irish News. Irish News. Belfast.Saturday, July 29, 2017 

YESTERDAY’S landmark ruling, effectively ordering a probe into the activities of the murderous Glenanne Gang to resume, has given new hope to the victims’ families – many of who have campaigned for more than 40 years for justice.

Mr. Justice Treacy ruled that police chiefs unlawfully frustrated any chance of an effective probe into allegations of state collusion with the loyalist unit – who were responsible for more than 100 murders in the Armagh and Tyrone areas – when they halted a cold case investigation before it could complete its work.

Among the dead was 13-year-old Patrick Barnard. The schoolboy was one of four people killed in a St Patrick’s Day bomb attack on the Hillcrest Bar in Dungannon, Co. Tyrone in March, 1976.

His brother Edward, who had taken the case against the PSNI, broke down in tears as the judgment was read.

A new investigation, the terms of which must be agreed by the victims families, will now be held.

Campaigners say yesterday’s ruling was more than they could have hoped for but was also a day tinged with sadness given the fact two members of their campaign group have died in the last 12 months. Many more are elderly and in the last years of their lives.

In the absence of a proper police investigation, and the political failings which has left hundreds of victims’ families in limbo, it was for the Royal Courts of Justice to deliver hope for the grieving families.

Collusion between the Loyalist gang and members of the RUC and the UDR was believed to be rife. “Stolen” or lost security force weapons were used in many of the killings.

Justice Treacy did not shy away from using the word collusion when delivering his damning judgment.

His ruling will have massive ramifications for those affected by the Glenanne gang.

Journalist Anne Cadwallader, who carried out five years of research for the book Lethal Allies, claims to have uncovered information which proves a direct link between members of the security forces and the gang which operated with impunity throughout the late 1970s.

She said she was led to conclude that the gang’s actions “were tolerated, even encouraged, by some whose duty it was to enforce the law.”

Any new probe must now right the wrongs of previous legal failings, but yesterday’s ruling will bring hope, to not just those bereaved by the Glenanne gang, but to many other grieving families for whom justice has been a stranger.