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PSNI ‘breaching’ families’ rights over lack of Glenanne Gang probe

Thursday, 3 August 2017

THE families of the victims of the notorious Glenanne Gang - who have "fought tooth and nail" to get justice for their loved ones - wept outside Belfast High Court last week after a Judge ruled the PSNI is "breaching their human rights" in relation to an inquiry into the loyalist murder group.

Relatives instigated legal action against the PSNI for failing to complete an overarching review into the gang, which is believed to have been responsible for up to 130 killings and around 90 incidents that occurred during The Troubles.

The group operated out of a farm in Glenanne and it's claimed was behind a pub bombing in Keady in 1976 and the Miami Showband massacre a year earlier. Its members included serving officers of the Royal Ulster Constabulary and the Ulster Defence Regiment.

Judge Tracey ruled last Friday (July 28) that changes made by the PSNI into how it investigated historic cases were "fundamentally inconsistent" with its obligations to the European Convention on human rights. The judge said that in replacing the HET (Historical Enquries Team) with the Legacy Investigations branch, the PSNI had frustrated "any possibility of an effective investigation".

He also questioned the state's commitment to investigating cases that involved alleged collusion.

The judicial review was conducted at the request of Edward Barnard, whose 13-year-old brother Patrick, was killed in the bombing of the Hillcrest Bar in Dungannon in County Tyrone in 1976.

Relatives have repeatedly called for the PSNI to complete an unfinished report into the Glenanne Gang carried out by the defunct HET and publish its findings.

The families and the PSNI are now expected to agree to a resolution that falls within the human rights legislation the judge outlined.

The developments have been welcomed by local MLAs, the SDLP's Justin McNulty and Cathal Boylan of Sinn Féin, with the former saying it was "scandalous" the families had been forced to take legal action. "This community has suffered terrible pain, inflicted by the state and by paramilitary org anisations," explained Mr McNulty.

"Many families are crying out for justice, and have been forced to turn to the courts just to get to the truth of what happened to their loved ones. This is scandalous.

"The victims' families have fought tooth and nail to get truth and justice and are indebted to the work of Darragh Mackin and Peter Corrigan from Kevin Winters Law Firm." He continued; "I want to congratulate the Barnard Family, Eugene Reavey and his family and all the other families who have shown unbelievable determination to make this day happen. Whatever the families decide to do from here I support them fully." Meanwhile, Mr Boylan said; "Justice Treacy has placed an onus on the PSNI to return to the courts in a fortnight's time to offer an 'appropriate form of relief ' that would address the family's concerns. I am calling on the PSNI to comply with the judgement and provide the necessary resources so that the families can get access to truth and justice."

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