Daily Ireland

Family casts doubt on Ombudsman inquiry

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An Armagh family has cast serious doubt on the impartiality of a Police Ombudsman inquiry into the conduct of RUC officers investigating the Ulster Volunteer Force murder of their sons 12 years ago.
On March 7, 1993, 18-year-old Rory Cairns and his 22-year-old brother Gerald were murdered in their Bleary home by a loyalist death squad while they celebrated their younger sister Roisin’s 11th birthday. Had Rory survived, he would have turned 30 today.
One of the gunmen who raked the Cairns farmhouse with bullets was Special Branch informer Mark ‘Swinger’ Fulton, who would later go on to lead the Loyalist Volunteer Force.
The murders rocked the tiny Bleary community. Despite the high-profile nature of the killings, the RUC investigation was decidedly low-key and “woefully inadequate”, according to the brothers’ father, Eamon Cairns.
Because the killings involved at least one British agent, the Cairns family is convinced that detectives never had any intention of bringing their sons’ murderers to justice.
Two years ago, the Police Ombudsman was called in to investigate the Cairns family’s belief that the RUC had never conducted a proper investigation. Although Nuala O’Loan’s office has still to finish its inquiry, the Cairns family is already casting serious doubt over what conclusion it might reach.
Eamon Cairns said, “I am in no doubt that the UVF colluded with the RUC in the build-up to my sons’ murders. It was Special Branch informers who pulled the trigger on my children. But they are only a small part of a bigger picture. I want to see the handlers of the UVF gunmen brought to book for setting my children up to be massacred.
“A while ago, I asked the Police Ombudsman to investigate but I am really unhappy with how its inquiries have been going. I think, and my family shares this view, that the Police Ombudsman is effectively part of the cover-up. What we want is for someone to admit, or the Police Ombudsman to confirm, that there was collusion.”
The village of Bleary is in the heart of north Armagh, an area that local nationalists call the “murder triangle”.
Since the outbreak of the Troubles, 171 people from the area have been murdered by loyalist paramilitaries.
Eamon Cairns said he believed that a large portion of these killings involved collusion between paramilitaries and security agencies.
In a bid to make the whole of Ireland aware of these statistics, Mr Cairns is currently meeting families who have lost loved ones in an attempt to set up an organisation for relatives of collusion victims in north Armagh.
He said, “Most of the people murdered in north Armagh were the victims of the same UVF gang. The RUC are well aware of the names of those who carried out the attack — after all, many were informers — and the lack of charges that followed points straight to collusion.
“Like the murder of my sons, the investigations into all the killings of nationalists in north Armagh were compromised from the start because of the RUC’s need to protect its agents and conceal its role. Although we are faced with this, we are not going to give up fighting for the truth.
“Gerald and Rory are always with us, as is every other lost loved one to their families in north Armagh.
“It is their spirits that has given us the strength to continue.”
A spokesman for the Police Ombudsman said the investigation into the Cairns murders had not been completed and was still under investigation.
He said the investigation was based on evidence and that, if Mr Cairns’ family or anyone else had fresh evidence the Police Ombudsman wanted to hear from them.

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