International Human Rights Delegation to Probe Collusion Allegations

An international delegation arrived in the North this weekend to probe allegations of collusion highlighted earlier this week in a BBC Spotlight Programme.

The allegations concern the activities of the so-called Glenanne group who have been linked to the Dublin and Monaghan bombings and a series of murders in Armagh, Tyrone and the border counties in the 1970s. The delegation will meet privately with families who have lost relatives and meetings have been requested with the authorities North and South of the border.

Among the cases featured in the Spotlight programme which the delegation will scrutinise are the multiple murders of members of the O'Dowd and Reavey families, the bomb and gun attacks on Donnelly's Bar, Silverbridge, the Rock Bar, Granemore, the murders of two GAA supporters at Altnamackin and the bomb attack on Kay's Tavern, Dundalk.

The delegation members are Piers Pigou, a former investigator with the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, a member of the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation and advisor to the East Timor Commission;

Susie Kemp, a barrister who was the Legal Director of the Centre for Human Rights Legal Rights Action in Guatemala and prepared cases for the truth commission in that county;

Steve Sawyer, a former prosecutor and legal counsel to the Centre for International Human Rights at North Western University in Chicago.

The delegation, which has been invited by the Derry based Pat Finucane Centre, will be led by Professor Douglass Cassel, President of the Board of Directors of the Justice Studies Center of the Americas, and Director for the Centre for Human Rights in Chicago. He has served as consultant on human rights to the United Nations, the Organization of American States, the United States Department of State and the Ford Foundation.

The delegation which will hold private hearings, will spend two weeks in Ireland and will publish a report later in the year which will be provided to the two governments. The Chief Constable of the PSNI, Hugh Orde, has agreed to meet the delegation. Some of those named in the BBC programme are also being invited to meet the group.

A spokesperson for the PFC, Alan Brecknell, said,

"We have been researching the activities of a group operating in the Murder Triangle for some years and the full extent of the links, both ballistically and through personnel, is shocking beyond belief. The work of the delegation will also focus on linked attacks including; the murders of Patrick Falls, Patrick Connolly, John Francis Green, the Miami Showband ambush, the bomb attacks at Killyliss and Castleblaney and Mc Ardles Bar in Crossmaglen and the gun attack on the Eagle Bar in Charlemont. The list goes on. In all we believe that over 100 deaths can be traced back to permutations of the same gang."