“There is nothing to suggest that the security forces colluded in the brutal murders”

The Eames/Bradley consultation may be intending to pass responsibility for “the substantive task of dealing with the past” to the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive… but the Police Ombudsman’s Office continues to look at some parts of that past. As reported here, and here, a statement has been released by the Ombudsman on the investigation of complaints about the police investigation into the murder of two brothers in 1993 – full statement here [pdf file] – and, as well as finding “There is nothing to suggest that the security forces colluded in the brutal murders”, the Ombudsman has recommended that the Historical Enquiries Team undertake a complete review of the police investigation.From the full statement [pdf file]

Conclusion

9.1 Both the SIO and DSIO have cooperated with this investigation but have since retired from the police service. The family contact officer has also retired from the police service but has refused to cooperate with this investigation. There is no evidence that any of these retired police officers or serving police officers have committed any criminal offence. All other police officers have cooperated fully with this investigation.

9.2 Mr Cairns and his family have every right to expect a thorough police investigation where every line of enquiry is exhausted in order to find the evidence required to bring to justice those responsible for murdering their sons. They are also entitled to expect answers regarding the circumstances and subsequent police investigation into the death of Gerard and Rory.

9.3 The main allegation of security force collusion has been carefully considered and assessed against all of the available evidence. The Police Ombudsman has no jurisdiction over the Army. They have co-operated fully with the investigation. However, due to the nature of the investigation and the request for significant amounts of historical material, there has been some delay in the Ombudsman’s investigation coming to its conclusions. The Army has provided answers to relevant questions and where appropriate a substantial amount of material has been supplied. There is no evidence to support Mr Cairns’ allegation that there was an unusually high security force presence at the time of the murders and the security forces created a clear path for the killers to and from the murder scene.

9.4 All of the available intelligence has also been viewed and considered. The investigation has revealed that there is no evidence that the police had any prior intelligence suggesting that an attack was going to take place at the Cairns home or at any other home in the area. The only logical conclusion for murdering the Cairns brothers was because they were Catholic.

9.5 There is evidence that Special Branch did not pass all of the intelligence relating to the murders and linked incidents to the investigating officer. The Police Ombudsman has commented on this aspect of Special Branch work in the past and it remains a cause for concern. This practice clearly limited the range of investigative opportunities available for an SIO.

9.6 It is recognised that tensions in Northern Ireland were very high at that time, where the police were investigating many terrorist related murders and incidents, for example Officer B was also investigating another murder in the local area. It is clear this would have had an impact on resources, which would have been severely stretched at times.

9.7 Officer A was not qualified for the role of SIO and Officer B clearly tried his best during the early stages of the investigation. Initial police actions at the crime scenes were good and the search for witnesses and identification of suspects were what would be expected of a murder enquiry. It is clear there was much effort during the first few weeks of the police enquiry, particularly by Officer B.

9.8 Although they must bear some responsibility, the Police Ombudsman concludes it would be unfair to single Officer A and Officer B out for criticism when it was clear that more senior police officers re-directed resources to other work so early in the enquiry. However, the evidence shows that the police investigation was allowed to slowly drift along and come to a halt without any finality. There were no situation reports that would assist any reviews; indeed there were no reviews of the investigation that may have given some re-direction to the enquiry team.

9.9 In addition, the family were not adequately kept informed of the situation. It is evident that Officer B did make some effort to speak to the family and although there were some difficulties, he still had a responsibility to overcome them with Officer A having overall responsibility. However, the Police Ombudsman acknowledges Officer B’s honesty in stating contact with the family was not as it should have been. Officer F was the appointed family contact officer and therefore had a responsibility to maintain communication with the family and keep them informed of the progress.

9.10 The Police Ombudsman concludes that the RUCs failure to share intelligence with the investigation team so that they could pursue new lines of enquiry to obtain evidence. The police enquiry did not maximise the opportunities arsing from potential lines of enquiry at the car auctions where potential witnesses were missed and a document that may have been handled by the person who purchased the car was not correctly seized for forensic examination. Furthermore, some potentially good witnesses were not adequately pursued, for example Witness V and Witness J’s children. This was the responsibility of the SIO and his deputy.

9.11 Similarly, the loss of important exhibits gives cause for concern. There is no evidence of wrongdoing but the loss of exhibits in this case is unacceptable and has prevented new forensic opportunities from being explored. This investigating failure is not unique to this enquiry and has been previously commented on by the Police Ombudsman.

9.12 It has been established that on 30 December 2003 police advised Mr Cairns that the weapons used in the murders of his two sons had a history of previous use and no one had yet been made amenable for the incidents involving their use. Mr Cairns was told, “these investigations remain.” Furthermore, the Crime Manager from Lurgan police station has confirmed to Police Ombudsman investigators that the case remains “open – undetected” and is not currently being investigated.

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  • PeaceandJustice

    I would like to see reports from the Police Ombudsman on other murders as well.

    For example, Frank Hegarty was murdered by Sinn Fein IRA. Ian Paisley said “One of the saddest calamities in Londonderry was the death of Frank Hegarty, who was murdered on the instructions of Mr McGuinness.”

    “He assured the mother, Rose, that if Frank came home, he could sort the matter out and all would be well; a firm assurance for a mother’s heart torn about her son. She persuaded her boy to come home.

    “A rendezvous was arranged by Mr McGuinness. Afterwards the body was found in a roadway in Tyrone, a bullet through the head.”

    What investigations were carried out by the police? Was McGuinness interviewed? Is the political settlement all about letting Sinn Fein IRA get away with the murders they carried out while the actions of everyone else must be examined in great detail?

  • Twelve Monkeys

    This was a case of “any taig will do” for to execute someone at close range with a rifle shows they where after someone else that night.

  • Twelve Monkeys

    From John O Dowd……

    “I am particularly concerned about how the evidence of an off Duty RUC officer, was handled. This off duty officer, who was at the auction were the killers car was bought, told the Police Ombudsmans office that he identified the buyer of the car at an ID parade in Lurgan Police station 3 months after the murder. The officer who was in charge of the ID parade states that no ID was made. This serious contradication in such a crucial aspect of the investigation speaks volumes about how seriously the investigation was handled.

    Concluding Mr O Dowd said:

    “The role of RUC Special Branch is again at the centre of a failure to capture loyalist killers. If the Special branch failed to cooperate with the original investigation then the question remains why? Why did the Special branch not think it was a priority to capture a group of sectarian serial killers? Many believe the reason is quite simple; they were one and the same.”

  • ulsterfan

    Twelve Monkeys

    NO collusion—–End of story!

    As per Ombudsman.

  • Michael

    Anybody who actually believes that collusion between the security forces and loyalist terrorists was endemic is to put it bluntly a headcase. If there really had been such collusion then the likes of the RUC and UDR would have ensured that most victims of the UDA/UVF etc would have been IRA/SF activists and not innocent Catholic civilians. Again my question for these lunatic conspiracy theorists who think collusion was indeed widespread is as follows…how the hell did the wanton slaughter of innocents in the 1974 Dublin/Monaghan bombings for example or the Maimi Showband killings help in the war against the IRA?

  • snakebrain

    “The main allegation of security force collusion has been carefully considered and assessed against all of the available evidence.”

    “There is no evidence to support Mr Cairns’ allegation”

    What that means is that the Ombudsman has found no evidence of collusion. It is not a hard and fast statement that there was NO collusion. There was definitely police obstruction, as in so many of the Ombudsman’s investigation.

    Just be a bit more careful with words ulsterfan…

  • ulsterfan

    If the Ombudsman says there is no evidence of collusion then it is reasonable to conclude this did not take place.
    Obstruction if it occurred is a different matter and is worthy of investigation but the outcome of this will have no bearing on the original finding “No collusion”

  • snakebrain

    ulsterfan

    I think you’re right in this case, but the principle stands.

    The finding wasn’t worded as simply as “No collusion” for a reason. That’s a tabloid treatment of a complex issue.

  • veritas

    no evidence now ,what would you expect ,any evidence would have been either destroyed or buried.too many people with too much to lose from the truth coming out.it will get worse now that the spooks are in charge,-who will investigate them.another master stroke negotiated by sinn fein(complete with their very own spook agent as part of their negotiating team.

  • snakebrain

    veritas

    You should also bear in mind that there would be no evidence of collusion if there had been no collusion. Sorry to spoil your paranoia but that’s the way it is….

  • k

    Does anyone really believe that Billy Wright and Robin Jackson did not have a ‘relationship’ with the RUC/MI5/whoever? At least until circumstances changed and they both died in ‘strange’ circumstances. As usual, unionists will bury their heads in the sand and believe that it’s all a giant republican conspiracy theory and that was really a great wee country with just a few rotten apples every now and again.

  • veritas

    It’s not paranoia to suspect the worst from the establishment in these cases,and I’m speaking for both of me when I say that.

  • veritas

    snakebrain the michael tighe inquest into shoot to kill, stalker ,stevens,fires ,I am just trying to make the point that the truth never seems to come out,pat finnucane enquiry to come next-the govt appointed a canadian judge-judge corry -to try to get to the bottom of that and see if an enquiry was needed, when he said it was they decided not to have one.too many people still have too much to lose.

  • veritas

    last post should have differentiated between the public enquiry that corry reccommended rather than the charade proposed by the brits

  • tweedledee

    Michael,

    how the hell did the wanton slaughter of innocents in the 1974 Dublin/Monaghan bombings for example or the Maimi Showband killings help in the war against the IRA?

    You need to brush up on counter insurgency strategies and tactics. One British army officer, Kitson, quite obligingly published on the subject.

  • Michael

    Tweedledee…while I can well believe that the RUC or UDR might deliberately have let an IRA activist be assasinated…after all a dead IRA man won`t ever kill again thus making their jobs safer…..it stretches one`s credibility to breaking point if claims are made about the Security forces colaberating with loyalists in killing innocent Catholics. Killing innocents did nothing to even dent the IRA so there is no way the authorities would have been involved in such random killings in any way.
    If the authorities really did have signifigent influence upon the likes of the UVF or UDA they would have ensured that only republican terrorists would have been targeted by them.
    Wasn`t “hearts and minds” a typical British counter insurgency tactic touted by Kitson?

  • tweedledee

    Michael,

    it stretches one`s credibility to breaking point if claims are made about the Security forces colaberating with loyalists in killing innocent Catholics. Killing innocents did nothing to even dent the IRA so there is no way the authorities would have been involved in such random killings in any way.

    Stretches nothing. The idea is that you apply pressure to the community the insurgents come from in order to make that community vomit out the insurgents. It’s a no-brainer.

  • veritas

    Michael
    You are being extremely naive not to believe it,it’s why the likes of king rat was able to operate with impunity.the mentality of the loyalist paramilitary was -any taig will do.It suited the brits to have the catholic community living in fear.the majority of all catholic murdered by loyalists had no connection with paramilitaries-just look at the figures -even since the ceasefires.this was to put pressure on the catholic community to say if the ira didn’t do this the loyalists wouldn’t do that.the dogs in the street know it.

  • Michael

    The idea is that you apply pressure to the community the insurgents come from in order to make that community vomit out the insurgents

    Didn`t work for the Nazis during WW2…in fact the various resistance groups accross Europe gained strength from the terror tactics employed by the SS and Gestapo against civilians. Why the hell would the British be so dumb (or so Callous….bearing in mind that the RUC and army were not fascist entities like the SS) as to employ this tactic? I class the UDA and UDR as fascist in nature NOT the RUC or UDR whose members were overwhelmingly in my opinion committed to good inter communial relations. Of course even the best orchard has a few bad apples but on the whole our local security forces hated sectarianism where ever it came from.

    Colluding with loyalists to help them carry out sectarian murders of catholic civilians would have been akin to flaunting a red flag in front of a bull…totally futile and counterproductive. I`m pretty sure the authorities and their security forces personnell knew this. Don`t forget Britian is a modern European democracy and that it`s rulers are for the large part well intentioned even if they do sometimes screw up. They wouldn`t use such methods against civilians the way a fascist dictatorship would.

  • Michael

    I said… I class the UDA and UDR as fascist in nature

    Typo…meant to say UDA and UVF not the UDR

  • veritas

    modern european democracy …ha ha ha- house of lords un-elected head of state-the heir to the throne cannot marry a catholic etc….
    brits well intentioned .iraq +oil=intervention
    zimbabwe + no oil=????

  • veritas

    Michael some suggested light reading for you-the dirty war by martin dillon.who framed colin wallace about psy-ops lisburn and stalker -just to be going on with oh amd by the way santa claus isn’t real.

  • saveus

    Ah Jesus Veritas; Santas not real? We need a thread on this !!

  • I Wonder

    ” (the) UDR whose members were overwhelmingly in my opinion committed to good inter communial relations.”

    I think you need to reconsider the basis for this opinion.

  • andy

    Michael
    Wasnt one of the pressures on the IRA to declare ceasefire the regularity of attacks on catholic civilians?
    You may also want to check out various south american insurgencies (eg Guatemala in the early 80s) where “pressure” on the insurgents support population essentially stymied the insurgency (albeit to a different scale than in NI)

  • Dec

    Of course even the best orchard has a few bad apples but on the whole our local security forces hated sectarianism where ever it came from.

    Aww, bless.

  • Alex S

    firstly, Michael
    “You are being extremely naive not to believe it,it’s why the likes of king rat was able to operate with impunity”

    What about Mad Dog, Border Fox, did they act with impunity?

    Secondly, the main reason behind the family’s suspicions seems to be the belief that the area was flooded with Security Forces all there to facilate the killers get away, would they not all need to be in on the secret? If you wanted to give the killers a free run the last thing you would do is flood the area with peelers and squaddies, the whole idea is silly,

  • veritas

    alex s
    what planet are you on,remember what happened to Bernadette McAlliskey.uvf murder gang attacked a rural house-tried to murder a family -and escape all while the home is under surveillance by the brits.It is also well known that robin the jackal was driven around by a member of the ruc who simply showed his warrant card any time they were stopped.

  • UFB

    “The RUC or UDR whose members were overwhelmingly in my opinion committed to good inter communial relations”

    What gives you the authority to make such an unequivical statement Michael?, my experiences with the aforementioned armed groups are in stark conntrast to your own opinions.

    As to your arguments against loyalists not being used as British proxys in a counter insurgency war have you never heard of John Weirs’ affadavit?

    http://www.geocities.com/capitolhill/senate/1922/

  • Michael

    Andy said…”Wasnt one of the pressures on the IRA to declare ceasefire the regularity of attacks on catholic civilians”?

    Doubt it. The IRA didn`t seem to care about attacks upon catholic civilians…of the 2000 odd people republicans killed only around 40 or so were loyalist terrorists according to Cain Sutton. They did however kill over 1000 members of the security forces and more than 700 civilians. As loyalists killed the vast majority of innocent Catholics it would seem that the IRA…judging by the figures, were largely uninterested in defending catholic civilians. Not forgetting that the IRA themselves killed several hundred catholic civilians. People often whine about a so called shoot to kill policy by the security forces….if they did indeed employ such a policy I would have been glad because it would have resulted in the virtual extinction of the scum of the IRA and their equally vile loyalist counterparts. I`m pretty sure the lads in the RUC and UDR would have been more than happy to carry out an even handed but systematic social cleansing programme of every two bit paramilitary group which existed in our provence had they been allowed to.

  • toecutter

    we are not trying to split an atom here it is plain for everyone to see that the security services of the uk wer pulling the strings for loyalists to murder catholics .thers no doubt about that so why arent they up in court and sitting long prison time like the yanks done on saddams henchmen