The brother of a boy murdered by a loyalist gang whose members allegedly included policemen and soldiers will tomorrow launch a legal challenge against Northern Ireland’s chief constable.
Edward Barnard’s 13-year brother Patrick was one of an estimated 120 people killed by the Ulster Volunteer Force’s Glenanne Gang in the 1970s.
He was one of four who died in a bomb blast at the Hillcrest Bar in Dungannon on St Patrick’s Day in March 1976.
Mr Barnard is applying for leave to judicially review the failure of the PSNI’s now defunct Historical Enquiries Team (HET) to complete an overarching thematic investigation into the activities of the Glenanne gang, which allegedly contained rogue members of the Army and police.
Relatives of a number of the other victims of the gang will accompany Mr Barnard to Belfast High Court for the hearing.
Mr Barnard’s solicitor Kevin Winters outlined why the action against chief constable George Hamilton was being taken.
“The HET has gone and there has been no sight of a wide ranging review into the Glenanne Gang murders despite the fact that it is known that such a review was almost completed and would have contributed to Edward Barnard’s knowledge of the role of state collusion in the activities of the Glenanne Gang,” he said.
The case is being supported by victims lobby group, the Pat Finucane Centre.
Anne Cadwallader, a case worker with the centre who has written a book on the Glenanne Gang, said the bereaved families had only received “silence and obfuscation” from the state.
“They lost their relatives in the most traumatic of circumstances and, over the succeeding three decades, have been lied to by both the RUC and the British political establishment,” she claimed.
“London would be well-advised to cut its losses at this stage and admit its servants and agents were involved in systemic collusion throughout the conflict. The alternative is lengthy, costly and ultimately self-defeating legal action.
“Many of the bereaved relatives are now elderly. At the very least, they deserve acknowledgement and apology.”