Posted By: February 05, 2014

Allison Morris. Irish News( Belfast). Wednesday, February 5, 2014.
GETTING to the truth of who was pulling the strings in a conflict that was
inevitably drawn out by those who armed and facilitated the gunmen is the last major
hurdle to cementing peace. The murderous activities of the informer-ridden Mount
Vernon UVF were first exposed by former police ombudsman Nuala O'Loan in a brave and
ground-breaking report on the murder of Raymond McCord jnr.

Her investigation revealed widespread collusion between the state and a drugged-up
gang of maniacs who were permitted to murder and maim, safe in the knowledge that
their police handlers would look the other way.

Mark Haddock, the man who led that gang, was arrested in England last week after
going AWOL for three days, having tried to kill his former associate and fellow
informer Terry Fairfield.

While this was unfolding I was in Brussels reporting on a visit by a delegation of
victims lobbying MEPs to put pressure on the British and Irish states to commit to
dealing with the past.

Among them was Emma Rogan, whose father Adrian was one of six men shot dead as he
watched a football match in a bar in Loughinisland in 1994.

Hardened politicians wept as she described the devastating effect his murder has had
on her family.

Fairfield, known by his handlers as 'the Mechanic', is believed to have provided the
getaway car used by the killers.

Also on the trip, facilitated by Sinn Fein MEP Martina Anderson, was Paul McKenna
whose sister Sharon was murdered as she visited the home of an elderly Protestant

Haddock was believed to be one of the gunmen,  and made confessions to a former RUC
man confirming that he was present. However, rather than being charged with killing
the innocent young Catholic woman and being placed before the courts, he was sent on
holiday and given a 'pay rise' by his RUC handlers.

Had Haddock been jailed, eight people,  his gang would go on to kill , could still
be alive, Mr McKenna told the members of the European Parliament. If reports are
accurate that Haddock, upon his arrest last week, was offered what amounts to
immunity under serious crime legislation to turn state's evidence, then not just his
victims' families but all victims still waiting on the truth should be outraged.

Haddock has lied, cheated and murdered his way through life. To make him a witness
for the state makes a mockery of the judicial process.

The failure of politicians to sign on the dotted line of the Haass proposals has once again left victims in a state of limbo. The current mechanisms for dealing with
the past are costly and ineffective. The Police Ombudsman, Historical enquiries team
investigations, along with ongoing inquests and High Court challenges for
information are lengthy and frustrating processes with no guarantee of success at
the end.

Under the Haass/O'Sullivan proposals an independent historical investigations unit
would replace the maze of procedures, simplifying and speeding up the truth-recovery
process. This is not a one-way process aimed solely at examining the links between
loyalist perpetrators of violence and the British government.

Victims of Republican informers still seek justice and the truth. The Smithwick
tribunal concluded that there was collusion between the IRA and members of the
gardai in the murders of Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and Superintendent Robert
Buchanan. The covert activities of IRA double agent Freddie Scappaticci have never
been properly investigated.

People murdered because they were claimed to be informers, following a 'trial' in a
kangaroo court overseen by a man working as an agent, also need answers as to why
their loved ones were sacrificed by the State he was working for. The stigma of
having a loved one murdered for being an alleged informer has in some cases left
families suffering in painful silence. The longer the impasse continues, the less
chance victims and survivors have of finding out the truth, as memories fade and
people who might hold that key nugget of information pass away. Listening to stories
of grief and loss by victims who believe their loved ones were considered collateral
damage is not easy. Having conversations about the past and how best to deal with it
are at times uncomfortable.

But for there to be a lasting, peaceful future the past must first be addressed. If
the parties at Stormont refuse to live up to the obligations placed on them by the
electorate then the British and Irish governments must press on by putting the
mechanisms Haass proposed into operation. It's time to finish what was started with
the signing of the Good Friday Agreement way back in 1998 and give answers to the
victims of the 'dirty war'.