Police Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan has announced that her office will publish the long-awaited details of the “Operation Ballast” investigation into collusion between the RUC and loyalist paramilitaries in North Belfast this Monday. The investigation into collusion was triggered by the 1997 UVF murder of Raymond McCord, Jr. From an article in today’s Irish Times:
Northern Police Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan has found that several RUC Special Branch officers colluded with North Belfast Ulster Volunteer Force members who were involved in more than a dozen murders, senior sources have told The Irish Times.
Her report, which will be published on Monday, finds that a significant number of Special Branch officers were complicit in protecting UVF agents or informers even though they knew they were directly involved in murders of Protestants and Catholics, the sources said.
The report, based on an investigation known as Operation Ballast, is also going to the North’s Director of Public Prosecutions who must now decide if former RUC officers should face very serious crime charges.
“There is intelligence within the policing system linking UVF members from its Mount Vernon unit in north Belfast to many killings, and that RUC Special Branch officers protected them from being made accountable to the law,” said a senior source yesterday.
The report was triggered by the 1997 UVF murder of Raymond McCord jnr, allegedly on the orders of UVF Mount Vernon leader Mark Haddock, who is currently serving 10 years for the grievous bodily harm of Trevor Gowdy, a doorman at a social club in Monkstown, near Belfast in 2002.
Haddock, whom some of his UVF colleagues attempted to kill last May, also acted as an informer for Special Branch, it is claimed.
Mark Durkan, head of the SDLP, told the BBC that the report will show that collusion is not just a “nationalist myth.” Adams speculates that unionists will now be forced to deal with the collusion issue, saying that most “sensible unionists will want to be in a better place and they know that their leaders can’t just forever wash their hands”.
Many assume it unlikely that the Director of Public Prosecutions will try to go after the guilty Special Branch officers because of missing intelligence documents. The Sunday Tribune today reports that their sources claim much of the evidence has been destroyed by detectives to protect themselves.