The DUP has insisted that it has consistently opposed law-breaking, following fresh revelations about how a paramilitary group founded by party members had worked with the UVF and UDA to import guns which were subsequently used to murder people.
The Police Ombudsman’s 157-page report into the Loughinisland atrocity, published last week, contains details which reveal that the guns used in that attack were imported into Northern Ireland by Ulster Resistance.
Ulster Resistance had been set up in November 1986 at a rally in the Ulster Hall which was chaired by Sammy Wilson.
It was also addressed by Ian Paisley and Peter Robinson and attended by the Rev Ivan Foster.
Its aim was to “take direct action as and when required” to end the Anglo-Irish Agreement.
The DUP had claimed to have severed links with the group in 1987 after it became clear that it was importing guns.
The Ombudsman’s report reveals police intelligence that in December 1986 – the month after it had been set up by senior DUP figures – senior members of Ulster Resistance began collaborating with the UVF and UDA to jointly import weapons.
It does not state whether the group’s political backers at that point had any knowledge of that activity.
The Ombudsman’s report into the Loughinisland atrocity states that guns which Ulster Resistance helped import were used in at least 70 murders and attempted murders.
It says: “The intelligence picture which emerged pointed to a conspiracy between the Ulster Resistance, UVF and UDA to raise considerable finance for the purchase of firearms in South Africa.”
Based on intelligence, a police officer told the Ombudsman that he believed ‘Person C’ – whom police intelligence linked to the UVF and later to Ulster Resistance – had played a “central” role in an alleged 1984 conspiracy to rob the Northern Bank in Portadown.
The Ombudsman said: “My investigators have seen police intelligence that in December 1986 senior members of the UDA, UVF and Ulster Resistance met to discuss the purchase and importation of arms with funds jointly raised by the three organisations.”
Six months later, the report says that police had intelligence that the three paramilitary groups had “finalised” plans to import £100,000-worth of guns “but that some difficulties had been encountered in raising the necessary funds”.
A month later, in July 1987, the Northern Bank in Portadown was robbed of £325,000 “by and on behalf of the UDA”.
The police had intelligence that “Person C” – who was then with Ulster Resistance – was involved in planning the robbery, which had “improved the funding situation (for Ulster Resistance)”.
When asked by the News Letter if the party would apologise for its role in founding Ulster Resistance, the DUP would only say in a brief statement: “The party’s stance is consistent, that anyone involved in illegal activity should be investigated and face the full weight of the law.”