06 February 2006

Belfast bookies murder weapons probe call

Daily Ireland

by Ciarán Barnes
06/02/2006

The families of five people murdered in a loyalist gun attack on a south Belfast bookmaker’s have called on the PSNI to make public the history of the weapons used in the attack.
Relatives of the dead gathered outside the Sean Graham betting shop on the Ormeau Road yesterday for a memorial service on the 14th anniversary of the killings.
On February 5, 1992, two Ulster Defence Association gunmen opened fire in the bookmaker’s shop with an AK47 assault rifle and a Browning pistol. They killed five people.
It later emerged that the UDA informer William Stobie had given the Browning pistol to RUC detectives before the attack.
Police officers gave the gun back to the UDA, which used the weapon to murder a Catholic in a west Belfast pub before using it in the Sean Graham massacre.
The AK47 had previously been used by the Ulster Volunteer Force in a murder bid on a north Belfast Catholic.
Police chiefs have consistently refused to make public the full history of the weapons, despite repeated requests from the families of the Sean Graham victims to do so.
A section of a report by the Canadian judge Peter Cory into cases of collusion between the security services and loyalist paramilitaries focuses on the guns.
However, in the final published version of his investigation, sentences detailing the history of the weapons are deleted.
Sean Graham survivor Mark Sykes, who was shot five times in the attack, said he believed that security chiefs were determined to prevent the history of the weapons being made public. He has maintained they have something to hide.
“There is something about those guns that they don’t want us to find out,” he said.
“Why else are they refusing to disclose the full history of the weapons? Why was this crucial information deleted in the published version of the Cory report?
“I was shot five times in the attack. My brother-in-law was killed, along with four other people. I have a right to know the history of the guns involved.”
The Browning and AK47 were part of a consignment brought into the North in December 1987 by the UDA informer Brian Nelson.
The double agent’s British army handlers had full knowledge of the huge arms shipment but did nothing to prevent the transportation from apartheid South Africa.
The arms were divided between the UDA, UVF and the Ulster Resistance group, which for a time had links to Ian Paisley’s Democratic Unionist Party.
The South African weapons have been used in more than 100 sectarian killings since January 1988.
Those murdered in the Sean Graham betting shop 14 years ago were Christy Doherty, Jack Duffin, James Kennedy, William McManus and Peter Magee.
Four of the five UDA men who planned and carried out the attack are also dead. They are Joe Bratty, Raymond Elder, Jim Gray and Terry Mercer. The fifth man was expelled from the UDA’s east Belfast brigade last year after an internal row.

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