Bookies' massacre gun 'given by RUC'

Published Thursday, 02 September 2010
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An HET report into the murders of five Catholics in the Sean Graham's bookmakers massacre reveals one of the guns used by the UDA gang had been handed back by RUC officers.

On 5 February 1992, two UFF gunmen attacked Sean Graham's bookmakers on Belfast's Ormeau Road in broad day light, killing five men, including a 15-year-old teenager.

Jack Duffin, 66; Willie McManus, 54; Christie Doherty, 52; Peter Magee, 18 and James Kennedy, 15, were shot dead in the attack.

The investigation carried out by the Historical Enquiry Team found that a Browning pistol used in the atrocity had been given back to the loyalist killer gang by the police.

The practice, which it is claimed was intended to combat terrorism, is heavily criticised in the HET latest report.

The Historical Enquiry Team calls the practice a "risky enterprise'', adding: "Such operations would have required both the authority of a senior police officer and a recovery plan, generally short-term and where possible supported by the security forces within a short period of time."

"Clearly in this case, there was a significant failure and the repercussions were tragic and devastating."

Police may have thought they had tampered with it to prevent it from being used. But the UDA subsequently used it in a number of murders, including the 1992 massacre.

"We're talking about five innocent men - a 15-year-old boy up to a 66-year-old man - who were in (Sean Graham's bookmakers) doing a bet as normal on a Wednesday afternoon and were gunned down and one of the weapons used was a Browning pistol that the RUC were involved in handing over to a loyalist death squad", Mark Sykes, who was injured in the attack, told UTV.

His 18-year-old brother, Peter Magee, was murdered by the weapon.

"The families want the truth and we want to make sure that no other families have to go through this again because the truth costs nothing. Cover-ups cost millions", Mr Sykes added.

"If the money spent on concealing the truth and preventing the truth from going out was used in actually telling the truth, we'd be in a healthier place."

No-one has ever been convicted with the Ormeau Road murders although a number of people were convicted with other offences connected to the attack.

Among other concerns raised in the HET report is the fact that a suspect referred to as Mr A should have been considered a person of interest and was described as unstable and dangerous.

The HET also says the second gun used in the murders - a rifle - was destroyed in 1994.

Sinn Féin west Belfast MLA Alex Maskey said the findings "will come as no surprise."

"The finding by the HET that the Browning pistol used by the UDA in this attack was handed back to them by the RUC will come as no surprise to the people of the Lower Ormeau area who have long known that a high degree of collusion took place in this attack."

© UTV News
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40 Comments
Ulysses32 in Belfast wrote (1,514 days ago):
"While I would agree that all should not be tarnished with the same filthy brush, I totally disagree with a shiny clean brush being used for all in the opposite way." Having a bit of knowledge on matters is a good thing. Ignoring knowledge is to your own folly. As I have pointed out to others before, please don't label me into one of your stereotypical categories. I have never referred to myself as a republican. And Big Ernest, it would appear that you have analysed your statement and decided to extend your genaralisations. Good for you to stick to your convictions.
lorna in limavady wrote (1,515 days ago):
Ulysses 32. You are a walking text book . full of knowledge here is a few facts not in your republican book .There were officers murdered who could not have been in the Orange order because they were Catholics. How many murders of officers were solved and how many convictions were there. The RUC murdered officers must be at the bottom of the pile. If they really were guilty of the crimes you have said there was no hiding place and were dealt with in the courts. They would not have church to run to hide.The police officers I know have friends both sides of the community and would say fear kept the people from giving evidence against the IRA. You should read "constabulary heroes "to get a full picture of suffering. Thats if you can.
BIG ERNEST in east antrim wrote (1,515 days ago):
ulysses , by that i must also put the catholic church , the irish governemnt , the garda etc all on a power with terrorists seeing as they have colluded with terrorists too .
Ulysses32 in Belfast wrote (1,516 days ago):
Then it is just right that all cases of injustice should be investigated, is it not? Irrelevant of of the perpetrator. Equating collusion involving security forces who are responsible for upholding the law to collusion involving terrorists who blatantly ignore the law, yeah, you have put the RUC on par with terrorists.
big ernest in east antrim wrote (1,516 days ago):
ulysses ;i dont assume your a republican , i know you sway that way , anyway the ruc , what makes you think that i think the ruc have done a commendable job ? the ruc have had to deal with a lot of unhealthy situations , they are an easy target for the likes of SF , yet you seem to think that i have put them on a par with terrorists , show me where i have done this ? like on the other story you have commented on , your said that a victims mother said something that she didnt lol . anyway the ruc acted at times dishonestly , whats the big deal ? so did the catholic church , the irish government , the garda and so on towards the british state in the north !!
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