A long-awaited Police Ombudsman’s report into the killings of 19 people by the UDA in North Antrim includes an RUC investigation into some of Trouble’s most infamous killings.
The investigation by the police watchdog was launched in 2014, observing how the RUC investigated the actions of a notorious UDA gang operating in the area between 1988 and 1993.
This included the so-called ‘trick or treat’ murder at Greysteel which claimed the lives of seven people, with another person dying at a later date.
UDA gunmen entered the Rising Sun bar in Ko Derry village and opened indiscriminate fire on 30 October 1993.
One of the gunmen shouted “trick or treat” before the killing began. Karen Thompson, the youngest victim at 19, was heard saying “it’s not weird”.
He died along with John Burns (54), Moira Duddy (59), Joseph McDermott (60), James Moore (81), John Moyne (50) and Steven Mullan (20). Victor Montgomery (76) died in April of the following year from injuries.
Four people received life sentences for the murders – Jeffrey Denny, Stephen Irwin, Torrence Knight and Brian McNeill. All were released under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.
Knight made fun of the families of the victims as they were being taken to prison. He found God while in prison and vowed to dedicate his life to the church.
Irvine was returned to prison and his license was revoked in 2005 for hitting a football fan in the Irish Cup final. He was released by the parole commissioners for the second time in 2013.
The first case of murders investigated by the Ombudsman was that of Gerard Casey in April 1989.
The 29-year-old married father-son was involved in business and lived with his family in Ballymani. He was shot to death while lying on the bed. Allegations of RUC collusion arose almost immediately.
Mr. Casey was arrested and detained at the Castlereagh Holding Center on several occasions since 1985. The last occasion he was detained was in October 1988, and he alleged that RUC officers had threatened him and specifically stated that they would see that he had been shot. , On that occasion Mr. Casey’s house was searched, a legally confiscated firearm was removed and never returned, and the police took a sketch map of the interior of his house during the search.
The gun used to kill Mr Casey was one of the weapons used in the Greysteel attack.
In March 1993, the same UDA gang shot and killed four workers while they were working on a housing estate in Castlerock; Another person was seriously injured.
One of those killed in the attack was IRA man James Kelly (25). The men were regularly stopped and harassed by the Army and the RUC prior to the attack.
Following the killings it emerged that Mr. Kelly’s name and photograph were included in confidential intelligence documents given to loyalists. His family also claims that members of the RUC told him that he would be killed by loyalists unless he became an informer.
Along with Mr Kelly, Robert Gerard Dalrymple (58), James McKenna (52), and Noel O’Kane (21) also lost their lives in the attack. A fifth man, Gerard McEldney, was seriously injured.
Again, the weapons used were the same as those used in the attack on the Rising Sun bar in Gresteel seven months later.
All except one of the 19 murders took place in the North West.
Sinn Féin councilor Eddie Fullerton was shot and killed in May 1991 in Ko Donegal.
Operation Greenwich also saw the assassination of Patrick Shanaghan in Castelderg, Co Tyrone in August 1991. The 30-year-old was an active member of Sinn Féin when he was killed. Last year he was informed by the RUC that security force documents containing his knowledge could fall into the hands of loyal paramilitaries, and that he should take steps to ensure his personal safety.
Fisherman Thomas Donaghy, 38, was also a member of Sinn Fein. He was shot as he arrived to begin work at the Portina Eel Fishery on the banks of the Ban River. A former IRA prisoner is later claimed to have been warned by a member of the RUC that he would be “dead by Christmas”.
The following month Bernard O’Hagan’s father of three was shot and killed as he arrived for work at Magherafelt College for further education. A Sinn Féin counselor, he was originally from Belfast but had moved to Swatrag with his wife and family.
The Ombudsman also investigated the murder of Daniel Cassidy in Killaria in April 1992. A 40-year-old father of two children died after gunshots hit his car. At his funeral, Bishop Edward Daly said that the “continuous and brutal harassment” of Mr Cassidy by some elements of the RUC was a factor in his assassination.
Malachi Carey (36) was shot dead while walking on a road in Ballymani in December 1992 and died the next day. He stood for Sinn Féin in the 1989 local council elections.
The Ombudsman was also asked to investigate the attempted murder of James McCorristan in Coleraine in February 1992 and the August 1992 murder of Patrick McErlane at Dunloy, Antrim.
While the investigation was carried out by former Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire, publication was delayed. Current Ombudsman Mary Anderson’s office on Thursday provided details of the findings to the victims’ families, with publication to be held online Friday.