20 December 2005

Murdered man's father to meet Hain

Belfast Telegraph

By Noel McAdam
20 December 2005

A murder victim's father was today due to hold his first formal meeting with a Secretary of State - eight years after his son's death.

Raymond McCord - whose son, Raymond Jnr, was battered to death by loyalists - has been invited as part of an SDLP delegation to meet Secretary of State Peter Hain face-to-face.

Mr McCord castigated the DUP who had "done nothing" for him but praised the SDLP which has pointed out the Government's Troubles-linked legislation will also apply to loyalist killers, including those who murdered Mr McCord's son in November, 1997.

"I class myself as a loyalist and Protestant, but it has taken the SDLP to do this for me and I don't think it is about their own agenda, in terms of collusion and so on. It is about justice," he said.

"People like Nigel Dodds who is my MP should have more concern for loyalist victims instead of focusing totally on republicans."

North Belfast MP Mr Dodds said today however: "It's completely untrue we have done nothing for Mr McCord. I arranged his first meeting with the former Chief Constable Ronnie Flanagan, for example.

"We want to see justice done in this case, as in all others."

Awaiting the Director of Public Prosecutions' verdict on a report into the murder prepared by the Police Ombudsman, Mr McCord said he would be asking Mr Hain if he was prepared to support the McCord family in their long-running campaign.

Mr McCord asked Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan four years ago to probe the police investigation into his son's murder and it is believed inquiries were widened to include other murders linked to a UVF gang from the Mount Vernon estate.

It is alleged that police took no action over a UVF boss in the estate because he was a Special Branch informer.

The question of whether criminal charges could be brought against past or present police officers has been thrown into doubt by the so-called On The Runs legislation now proceeding through Parliament.

North Belfast SDLP MLA Alban Maginness said people should realise that there are hundreds of loyalist killers who will now not have to face a day in court.

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