Glenanne Gang Writ

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

FAMILIES of people murdered by a loyalist gang based in south Armagh are set to sue the government over collusion claims.
The Glenanne Gang - made up of UVF, RUC and UDR members - is believed to have been responsible for 120 murders on both sides of the border during the mid 70s, including the Reavey brothers, the Miami Showband massacre and the Dublin and Monaghan bombings.
Victims' families believe the authorities knew about the activities of the gang based at a farm in Glenanne, near Whitecross, and are now pressing ahead with legal action against the police, MoD and the Northern Ireland Office.
Belfast-based solicitor Kevin Winters said a total of 32 families have agreed to take part in the mass litigation which he said will allege the British government and its agencies facilitated or sanctioned collusion.
“The failure of the PSNI to sanction an overarching, thematic HET Report linking all of the atrocities together and the recent collapse of the Haass proposals on the past has left many families with little alternative but to take legal action to get justice and closure," said Mr Winters.
“The first preliminary hearing of the Inquest into Betty McDonald's murder will be held after Easter when we will ask the coroner to look at all the cases on a linked basis.
“We are supported in this approach by the Police Ombudsman, Dr Michael Maguire, whose investigation into allegations of misconduct and criminality is already underway.
“To that end the pending litigation not only supports calls for a choreographed legal oversight, but will also bring long overdue compensation for the horrendous losses suffered by all families."
While the gang carried out most of its attacks in the Mid Ulster area, it was responsible for at least eight murders in the Newry and south Armagh areas.
In November 1974 the gang, often operating under the name Protestant Action Force, threw a bomb into the hallway of Hughes Bar in Newry, injuring a number of people inside, including John Mallon who died from his injuries less than a month later. The gang was responsible for a bomb attack on McArdle's Bar in Crossmaglen a year later, injuring six people, including Thomas McNamee, who later died from his injuries.
In November 1975, gang members opened fire on Donnelly's Pub in Silverbridge before throwing a bomb into it, killing three people.
Less than a month later in January 1976, the gang targeted and killed John, Anthony and Brian Reavey at their Whitecross home and, according to an unnamed gang member, a plan to kill Catholic schoolchildren in a primary school in Belleeks in retaliation to the Kingsmill massacre was aborted at the last minute as the UVF leadership in Belfast feared it would cost the organisation support.
John Weir, a key figure in the gang and an officer in the RUC's Special Patrol Group, was jailed for the 1977 murder of a Catholic chemist and upon his release in 1992 he made a number of allegations incriminating his former associates in the Glennane Gang.

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