29 October 2005

What are you hiding?

Belfast Telegraph

Murder victim's dad in challenge to ex-RUC men

By Alan Erwin
29 October 2005

The father of a loyalist terrorist murder victim last night offered to meet police Special Branch officers accused of protecting the killers.

Raymond McCord said the ex-RUC men who allegedly shielded paramilitary informers that were involved in beating his son to death were running scared.

With Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan examining the murder as part of a widening probe into claims of a massive collusion plot, it has been reported that officers have refused to be interviewed.

But Mr McCord challenged them: "What are you frightened of?

"If you don't want to Mrs O'Loan come and talk to me. Give me the information you have on my son's murder."

His son, ex-RAF operator Raymond McCord Jr (22), was killed by Ulster Volunteer Force men and dumped in a north Belfast quarry in November 1997.

Ever since, Mr McCord has claimed Special Branch officers thwarted the murder inquiry because it implicated two UVF agents. Mrs O'Loan's two-year investigation into the case has been stretched to examine up to a dozen other killings.

In the Republic on Thursday a senior politician used parliamentary privilege to name two Belfast loyalists allegedly linked to the McCord murder.

Pat Rabbitte, leader of the Irish Labour Party, claimed in the Dail parliament that Special Branch informer Mark Haddock and another man were present when Mr McCord was murdered.

Haddock (39), from Belfast's Mount Vernon district, is awaiting trial accused of attempting to murder a doorman in Co Antrim nearly three years ago.

Mr Rabbitte claimed under privilege: "The central allegation is that Haddock was not charged with any crime because he was an informer who had to be protected. He was able to act with impunity, while the police effectively colluded in his crimes."

The Dublin TD also alleged Haddock was linked to seven other murders while working as an RUC police informer.

These were: Catholic builders Gary Convie and Eamon Fox in 1994; alleged informer Thomas Sheppard in 1996; Protestant clergyman the Rev David Templeton in 1997; Billy Harbison in 1997; former unionist politician Tommy English in 2000; and David Greer in 2000.

An interim report by Mrs O'Loan's investigation team has been sent to the Public Prosecution Service. But an exhaustive dossier has still to be completed, and a decision has yet to be taken on whether to recommend prosecutions against any Special Branch officers.

With some of those under investigation vowing not to talk to the Ombudsman's staff because they believe the probe is an attempt to demonise them, Mr McCord insisted they had no right to silence.

"Serving and past police officers have given me information because they are disgusted with the antics of Special Branch," he said.

"Murders could have been prevented and they weren't allowed to be because it would jeopardise informers."

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