31 May 2006

Haddock death bid: UVF gang is blamed

Belfast Telegraph

Shooting heaps pressure on Empey

31 May 2006

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usLeading loyalist Mark Haddock was clinging to life today as suspicions over his attempted murder centred on former associates in a notorious north Belfast UVF gang.

The shooting is expected to heap pressure on UUP leader Sir Reg Empey over his party's Assembly link-up with PUP leader David Ervine.

Haddock (37), is the ex-Special Branch informer at the heart of a major Police Ombudsman probe into alleged security force collusion with the UVF in the Mount Vernon estate.

He remained in a critical condition in the Royal Victoria Hospital today after being shot up to eight times in a house in Newtownabbey late yesterday afternoon.

There have been widespread rumours that Haddock's once loyal allies in Mount Vernon had been ordered to kill him by the terror group's bosses.

The murder bid raises fresh questions about court bail decisions. Haddock is awaiting a verdict, on a charge of attempting to murder Ballyclare pub doorman Trevor Gowdy in 2002.

He was granted bail in January, despite a police warning that his release would trigger UVF violence.

There will also be fears that yesterday's murder bid will create further instability within loyalism in north Belfast.

Haddock had enemies outside the UVF, having being accused under parliamentary privilege of involvement in a string of murders.

The UDA blamed the Mount Vernon UVF for spreading a loyalist feud out from the Shankill to north Belfast and Newtownabbey in 2000.

But a source close to the UDA today said: "There is no chance of UDA involvement in this. There is no doubt that it was the UVF."

Haddock was named in the Dail last year as the senior loyalist and ex-police informer at the centre of a Police Ombudsman investigation into the murder of ex-RAF airman Raymond McCord Jnr in 1997.

Irish Labour leader Pat Rabbitte also told the Dail in October that Haddock had been involved in eight other killings, starting with the murder of Catholic woman Sharon McKenna in 1993.

PUP leader David Ervine today said he had spoken to UVF members about the attack, but remains unsure about who was responsible.

"I think I've got to condemn an attack made on a human being," he said.

But he added: "The same tears for Sharon McKenna are not necessarily the same tears for Mark Haddock."

A 'marked man'

Suspicion was last night falling on former UVF comrades of leading loyalist Mark Haddock after he was shot up to eight times in a murder bid.

The prominent loyalist, thought to be commander of the UVF in Mount Vernon, was left fighting for his life after he was attacked just before 4pm yesterday in the Mossley area of Newtownabbey.

He was shot multiple times but managed to make his way to a neighbour's house where an ambulance was called.

Last night, he was undergoing treatment at the Royal Victoria Hospital where his condition was described as "critical".

Haddock, who is currently on trial for the attempted murder of doorman Trevor Gowdy, was out on bail and was thought to be living in the Newtownabbey area.

Last year, he was accused in the Dail of having been a long-term Special Branch informer linked to a number of murders, including that of Raymond McCord Jnr.

The 37-year-old UVF man was gunned down at a house where he had been staying in the Mossley area of Newtownabbey just before 4pm yesterday.

It is believed he was shot between five and eight times before he made his way to a neighbour's house where an ambulance was called.

The prominent loyalist, who is suspected of being the Commander of the UVF in Mount Vernon, was taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast, for treatment. His condition was last night described as "critical".

The scene of the shooting remained sealed off throughout the evening as detectives carried out a follow-up investigation.

As forensics experts scoured the area for clues, loyalist sources claimed it was only a matter of time before Haddock was attacked.

"He was a marked man. Things hadn't looked good for him for some time," one said.

Another at the scene claimed: "It looks like an organisation cleansing itself."

At one stage, police asked the waiting media to turn off cameras as his family was escorted from the scene in a car.

It is believed Haddock has had an address in the area for the last two-and-a-half years and had been living there on and off.

He has been on trial on attempted murder charges following an attack on a nightclub doorman three-and-a-half years ago and was out on bail while a judge considered the case against him.

The loyalist was also questioned by police about the murder of Raymond McCord Jnr. The 22-year-old former RAF airman was beaten to death and his body left at a quarry in 1997.

His father, Raymond McCord Snr, has always maintained Haddock was involved in his son's murder. His ex-wife and son, Gareth McCord, were at the scene of the shooting yesterday.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Gareth said: "If he dies, he will be buried with the truth, but we won't see justice for my brother's death through the court."

Raymond McCord Jnr's murder has been the focus of an investigation by the Police Ombudsman's office and a file is due to be published in the next month or so.

Last night, Sinn Fein said there would be suspicions about the shooting.

North Belfast MLA Gerry Kelly said it was widely accepted Haddock had been working for Special Branch for many years.

"An inquiry into collusion between the Mount Vernon UVF and the Special Branch is currently being conducted by the Police Ombudsman and is due to be published next month," he said.

"Mark Haddock is at the centre of this inquiry. Given this, many people will be rightly suspicious of both the timing and the motivation behind this shooting."

Mr Kelly added: "There is a clear pattern of former British agents being killed in circumstances like this, just as allegations of collusion or other activities are about to be exposed."

Ulster Unionist MLA Roy Beggs Jnr condemned the shooting.

"There can be no place for this kind of activity in right-thinking society," he said.

He added: "The perpetrators of this barbaric act must be swiftly taken off the streets and subjected to the fullest rigour of the law."

...........................

Forced out of the shadows

By David Gordon

Mark Haddock could not be described as a celebrity godfather.

He has never courted the limelight like Johnny "Mad Dog" Adair or Jim "Doris Day" Gray.

The fact that he was forced out of the shadows in recent years was due in large part to two men - Raymond McCord Snr and Trevor Gowdy.

For many years, Mr McCord told anyone who would listen that his son Raymond Jnr was beaten to death in 1997 on the orders of an RUC Special Branch informer in the Mount Vernon UVF in north Belfast.

Few people - outside of a small circle of journalists - took him seriously to begin with.

All that changed when he took his grievances to Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan in 2002.

His allegations prompted the Ombudsman's most far-reaching investigation to date. A report on her findings is now being finalised and is due to be published this summer.

Haddock was publicly linked to Raymond McCord Jnr's 1997 killing under parliamentary privilege in the Dail last October.

Irish Labour leader Pat Rabbitte told fellow TDs: "At least two members of the gang who carried out the murder were Special Branch informers.

"They were Mark Haddock, who ordered the murder, and John Bond, who was present when Raymond McCord was murdered."

The Dublin politician also stated: "According to his father, the Mount Vernon UVF murdered Raymond McCord because he had been summoned by John 'Bunter' Graham, the officer commanding the UVF on the Shankill Road, to account for his role in ferrying drugs for Mark Haddock.

"He was murdered to prevent Graham finding out about Haddock's unsanctioned drugs operations."

Mr Rabbitte accused Haddock of being involved in eight other murders, starting with the killing of Catholic woman Sharon McKenna in Mount Vernon in January 1993.

He also told the Dail: "The central allegation is that Haddock was not charged with any crime because he was an informer who had to be protected."

The Irish Labour leader's claims were aired shortly before Haddock went on trial last November for the attempted murder of Ballyclare pub doorman Trevor Gowdy in Monkstown in December 2002.

Mr Gowdy, a former Army boxing champion, left Northern Ireland under a witness protection programme after naming Haddock as one of his attackers.

The homes of relatives and friends were subsequently targeted in a sinister and co-ordinated campaign.

Haddock, meanwhile, went on the run and was eventually caught in Holyhead, north Wales.

He denied the attempted murder charge. A Crown Court judge has been weighing the evidence ahead of delivering his verdict.

During early legal proceedings in the case, Haddock was accused by Crown lawyers of being a senior UVF figure in Mount Vernon.

His low profile was gone for good.

An ex-informer who has made many enemies

Security expert Brian Rowan assesses the implications of the Haddock shooting

It is one of those shootings that has the word inevitable written all over it - and in its wake there are other inevitabilities.

Mark Haddock worked for the Special Branch. He was, in the jargon of that secret police world, a covert human intelligence source - something that, in the loyalist dictionary, translates into tout.

The allegations against Haddock were stacking up, and yesterday's shooting was becoming ever more likely.

He had been de-activated as an agent - a move that coincided with a Police Ombudsman investigation into the 1997 murder of Raymond McCord Jnr and a purge of the informer world ordered by the chief constable Sir Hugh Orde.

There was a review of every single informant under police control and many were struck off. Haddock was one of them.

The recent murder of Denis Donaldson told us that, even in our developing peace, there is no safe place for the informer - something confirmed by yesterday's shooting.

If it is pinned to the UVF - if proof is produced that that organisation pulled the trigger - then there are significant political implications and there will be many more questions about the controversial Empey-Ervine arrangements at Stormont.

Another of the inevitabilities to emerge out of yesterday's shooting.

Can that political arrangement be sustained?

Can the Ulster Unionists really afford to keep the man with political links to the UVF within their Assembly group?

It was tricky enough before this shooting and it will be even more difficult now.

That is the flaw in the Empey-Ervine arrangement - that its survival depends so much on the behaviour of the UVF; on an organisation whose ceasefire is not recognised; and on a paramilitary group that only recently ruled out imminent decommissioning.

That said, the Hume-Adams process survived many violent IRA actions and eventually delivered the ceasefires of 1994 and 1997.

The UVF is involved in a peace discussion within its ranks - in a debate that has stretched across the entire organisation in Northern Ireland as well as in Scotland and England.

We know the outcome of that debate will not be declared until after the November deadline for a political deal at Stormont.

A spokesman for the UVF leadership made that clear in a recent interview with this newspaper.

But, again, if this shooting can be traced to the loyalist group, then the credibility of that debate - its peace discussion - will be undermined.

"If they (the UVF) were responsible, why now?" a senior loyalist asked.

"How many enemies did Haddock have? Count them," the source said.

Haddock's enemies rest within the UVF organisation - one-time comrades who clearly believed the informer allegations that were being made, and repeated, on so many occasions.

According to a source who should know, there is a more senior police informer inside the UVF leadership - and there is a report due soon from the Police Ombudsman's office that will link a series of agents to a series of killings.

It is a report that will prompt the question - just how dirty was the Dirty War?

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