Loughrey/ Toland Press Conference
PFC | 21 September 2012
The Pat Finucane Centre hosted a press conference on behalf of the Toland and Loughrey families. Jim Loughrey and John Toland were both murdered in separate attacks in 1976 by the UDA in collusion with members of the RUC/UDR near to Derry city. Serious questions remain unanswered about the role of a senior UDA man in Derry at the time of the murders. Please see full statements from both families and join us in lobbying for an impartial truth recovery process for all those with similar unanswered questions.
My name is Danny and I am here on behalf of the family of John Toland. My father was much loved and is greatly missed. He was dedicated to caring for his family and to his work. He didn’t wish harm or offence to any other human being and he didn’t have a sectarian bone in his body. He was a warm, generous and loving father and husband. He was taken from us on November 22 1976... 36 years ago this year. He was 36 years old when he died and left seven children behind - Danny, Richard, Sean, Martin, Majella, Elizabeth and Siobhan. Our mother Marie has been an unbelievable source of strength, love and encouragement to us over the past 36 years.
We are not sitting here today because we want revenge. We are not sitting here because we harbour bitterness or expect someone to be prosecuted at this late stage. We are sitting here because we want the truth just like the families of the Bloody Sunday victims or the families of those who died at Hillsborough. We are here today because we owe it to the memory of our father and husband.
Recently we received a report from the Historical Enquiry Team. The report was shocking in many ways. First and foremost the report finally put the lie to the deeply hurtful claim that our father was passing on information to the IRA. This was a lie. He was a barman earning a wage for his family in a mixed bar in a small country town. His crime was to be catholic. A number of things emerged in this report that caused us to ask the Pat Finucane Centre to organise this press conference. John was killed by a loyalist gang. This gang included members of the UDA in Derry, members of the UDR and a former member of the RUC. According to the report
"the HET concludes that it is likely that there was collusion between individual members of the security forces and those responsible for John’s murder".
A former RUC member who was convicted in relation to another murder admitted that he knew about the planning for the murder of our father. He was not charged.
A serving member of the UDR, David Hamilton, was charged and convicted for supplying the weapon used in the murder. According to the judge this man was "not on the fringes." The judge went on to say that he was lucky "you are not facing very long sentences." He was very lucky. Two murder charges were dropped and he received the minimum sentence of five years, serving less than half.
The HET found evidence that the murder of our father was planned and ordered by the then UDA Brigadier in Derry at the time who intended that the UDA would take over the Happy Landing Bar following John’s murder. This man, a former B Special according to the HET, also ordered the murder of John Loughrey. Information available in the public domain suggests this man was also a former Royal Marine Commando. Despite being placed on the Police National Computer in the 1980s as wanted for questioning in relation to a number of serious allegations, including murder, this individual left the North either in 1982 or 1986 ... the date is not clear ... and continued to visit the North on numerous occasions.
The report also states that intelligence records show during the period covering the murders of John Toland, James Loughrey and others there were reported associations between the UDA Commander in Derry and members of the UDR and a former member of the RUC. The UDA Commander in Derry at the time of these murders was never questioned about any of these allegations. Our questions for the Chief Constable, the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Secretary of State are these ..
What was the role of the UDA commander in Derry at the time of these murders?
Was he an agent who reported to his handlers?
Could these murders have been prevented?
Could my father be alive today?
Patrick James (Jim) Loughrey
My name is John Loughrey, I am here today with my sisters Pauline and Veronica. I am the son of Jim Loughrey, who was shot and seriously injured at our home in Greysteel on November 14 1976. He died 11 days later on November 25, leaving behind our mother and eight children. My father was shot just days before the murder of John Toland nearby in Eglinton. No-one was ever convicted for his murder.
We have also received a HET report, though we remain unhappy with the main conclusions in that report.
Our father was killed by the same loyalist gang that carried out a number of murders in this area at the time. One of the guns used to shoot him was used in the murder of John Toland and others. A UDR member, David Hamilton, was convicted of possession of this weapon. One of the gunmen who shot my father was also involved in the murder of John Toland.
Crucially the murder was ordered by the UDA Commander in Derry at the time, a former B Special and Royal Marine who is also implicated in other murders and serious offences. Before outlining our concerns at the failure to bring anyone to justice for this murder I want to talk briefly about my father, who he was and the effect that his murder had on our family.
My father was a toolmaker by trade who liked to watch Finn Harps play, and believed strongly in education for his children. He was also a civil rights activist and a republican, and before his death had come to see civil rights as a class struggle. His murder left our mother with eight children between the ages of 4 and 15. She is an amazingly resilient woman, and did an incredible job raising us despite the financial and emotional hardships caused by our father’s murder. As you can imagine, the impacts of our father’s murder are far reaching. One lasting impact was that we did not have access to the educational opportunities he had hoped for.
As a family we had serious concerns in the immediate aftermath of the shooting. Our father had received death threats because of his republican views and feared genuinely for his life. Shortly before the shooting a UDR checkpoint had been in place at the entrance to the village. When, 10 years later, we discovered that new information had been provided by a loyalist prisoner, Leonard Campbell, we waited in vain to see if convictions would follow. None did in our case, though we welcomed the fact that some individuals were convicted in other linked cases.
Though some of the same individuals, some of the same guns, the same UDR source and the same organisation were involved in the murder of John Toland ...disappointingly... the findings in our case are weaker and contradictory. The finding that "collusion cannot be ruled out" is, to put it mildly, unconvincing. These are issues that we intend to discuss with the HET and we hope that they can be resolved.
Our contention this morning concerns the role of the UDA leader in Derry at the time, described in the report as ‘suspect 1’. This individual was alleged to have ordered and planned the murder according to Leonard Campbell. It should be remembered that Campbell’s evidence was found to be substantially reliable and led to a number of convictions. He was not a supergrass and was himself convicted on a number of counts.
According to the HET the unnamed UDA leader, who we know to be Andy Robinson, and I quote,
"has never been arrested or questioned by police about any of the murders he was implicated in by Campbell."
It is extraordinary that Campbell’s evidence led to the arrest of 30 loyalists in the Derry area but not to the arrest of the former UDA leader who was directly implicated. His details were placed on the Police National Computer as wanted in connection with direct involvement in another murder outside Derry city, yet he was never questioned over the years. It is unclear when he left the city, possibly after Campbell began co-operating, but the HET has confirmed that he travelled back and forth to the North and "extensively throughout the world" where he "… lived in a number of countries."
A number of publications reported that he was running a B&B in Portpatrick, Scotland as late as 2006, yet he was never questioned. That is twenty years after he was circulated as wanted for questioning.
So who was Andy Robinson? He was senior enough within the UDA to be included in the delegation from that organisation that visited Libya in 1974. According to the HET he was linked to a number of UDR members and a former RUC man/convicted murderer in Derry, while UDA commander.
Who was Andy Robinson really working for?
What were the circumstances surrounding his disappearance?
Why was he never arrested over the years?
Could murders, including those of my father and John Toland, have been prevented?