Posted By: June 04, 2015

Allison Morris. Irish news ( Belfast). Thursday, June 4, 2015

DESPITE some of the absolute guff put out by the 
BBC at times, I would happily pay
my TV licence without complaint just for the kind 
of investigation into collusion in
Northern Ireland that was at the centre 
of a Panorama programme last week. 

The investigation by Darragh MacIntyre
 took a sensitive and moving look at the
personal stories behind some of the most
 shocking cases of collusion. 

For many of us watching in Northern Ireland, 
especially those who either experienced
the trauma at first hand or have worked covering 
the subject of state control of
paramilitary groups, there weren't that many
 surprises. We've known, thanks to the
work of local journalists and solicitors for 
many years, that collusion existed here
on a grand scale. That some paramilitary
 gangs were little more than a mob of state
employed murderers and that life was 
considered expendable. 

But the Panorama investigation provided 
a much bigger public service than reminding
us just how bad that period was. Aired
 across the UK it brought the subject to a
much wider audience. 

Viewers watching in England, Scotland 
and Wales - including members of the
establishment that helped prop up this 
system and who continue to justify it as
legitimate counter insurgency - need 
to be exposed for actions that 
caused so much
pain to so many people. 

For decades the British public was
 fed the myth that the conflict here 
was a grubby
civil war with the British forces 
acting as a buffer between the two. 

The issue of collusion with masked
 killers blows that myth out of the water. 

Not only was the state turning a 
blind eye to the actions of their 
most protected
informers, they were in some 
cases directing their actions. 

I have interviewed some of the 
families featured in the documentary, sat in their
kitchens, listened to their stories, seen 
at first hand the grief of their loss and
anger at the state which, had it fulfilled
 its duty to protect rather than endanger
its citizens, would have meant their loved
 one was sitting with them and not some

I also sat through the evidence given
 by two brothers, Robert and Ian Stewart, who
were on the periphery of the informer-ridden
 Mount Vernon UVF headed up by Mark
Haddock who was a protected species 
according to former Police Ombudsman Nuala

The outcome of that failed trial was 
in the end no surprise. The supergrass system
was a failure the first time around 
and is a failure now, mainly because you are
relying on people with no character
 and a criminal past to all of a sudden become
honest, truthful and give full disclosure. 

But one small aspect lost in weeks of 
evidence struck me as giving an insight into
the behaviour of Haddock's gang. 

One of the charges facing the brothers 
was having sex with children, in this case
14-year-old schoolgirls. 

The girls would be lured to parties, 
filled with drink and drugs and then abused. 

When cross examined by a defence 
barrister the witness looked towards his former
leader Haddock and said coldly, "sure we were all at it". 

That aspect got lost amid what was
 a murder trial but consider this, not only was
the state prepared to allow the murder
 of innocents such as Good Samaritan Sharon
McKenna, shot dead as she tended an
 elderly neighbour and Jack Duffin, shot dead in
Sean Graham's bookies with a gun that 
had been handed back to loyalists to carry out
sectarian slaughter. 

Not only was a blind eye turned to that
 but these people were not some James Bond
style agents, helping take out the bad
 guys to protect the good ones. 

They were serial killers, psychopaths,
 gangsters, drug dealer and in some cases

And while most of the reports have centred
 around the actions of loyalist informers,
it must also be noted that republicans have 
not walked away unscathed. 

The actions of Freddie Scappaticci, 
the alleged IRA 'nutting squad' leader who is
believed to be responsible for murdering 
people accused of being informants while he
himself was working for the state has 
yet to be fully investigated. 

In fact were it not for journalists
 and human rights lawyers who continue to probe,
dig and expose the corruption 
at the heart of state-sponsored violence 
there would
be no accountability for those who were 
meant to uphold the law but instead were the
facilitators of murderers.