UVF victims: ‘Are we not entitled to truth?’

UVF commander turned supergrass Gary Haggarty
UVF commander turned supergrass Gary Haggarty

Victims of a loyalist terror gang led by an Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) informer have lost faith in the law, a grieving sister said.

Thirteen suspects implicated by paramilitary commander-turned supergrass Gary Haggarty, including two former police intelligence officers, will not be prosecuted because of insufficient corroborating evidence, prosecutors said.

Catholic taxi driver Gerard Brady was shot dead by the notorious UVF group in North Belfast in 1994.

His sister Jackie Larkin was particularly critical of the police investigation.

“We were lied to from day one, my family had every trust in the police officers that came to our home and told us that they would do everything to find out who did this and investigate it thoroughly.

“Over 20 years and we are still in the same boat and the horribleness and the criminality and the people that have been involved - it is just a complete and utter minefield.”

“We have had nothing but lies and false promises and it is very, very difficult to draw a line between the paramilitaries and the police service, from what we are being told.”

While police gather evidence it is for prosecutors to decide whether to bring charges based on the strength of that material.

Ms Larkin said the authorities knew all along what kind of character Haggarty was.

She added: “We are supposed to have a new police service, all these different things in place now, can someone answer why does it boil down to that we have to depend on the word of a criminal to get justice in the murders of our loved ones?

“I think it is wrong.

“We are taxpayers, we are law-abiding, we are entitled to the same as everybody else, we are entitled to justice and truth and we are not getting it.”

She said they were back to “square one” in their campaign for justice.

“We still have had no answers and I think we are entitled to that.

“I cannot count how many times we have been let down.

“It is totally disgusting, my mum is now in her eighties and we are still trying to find out what actually happened to my brother and get some closure and we are not getting that, we are just getting more of the same.

“Each department that comes on board makes all of these promises and none of them are fulfilled, it is just the same horrible mess.

“Are we not entitled to the truth?”

Director of Public Prosecutions Barra McGrory said assessing the credibility of an assisting offender was a “complex task” and “full and careful” consideration was given to the evidence.

He said there was no reasonable prospect of obtaining convictions of the 11 suspects and two former police officers named by Haggarty.

Eamon Fox was shot dead on May 17 1994 by the same UVF gang.

He was eating lunch while parked close to a Belfast building site at the time.

His son Ciaran attacked the decision not to prosecute two former Royal Ulster Constabulary Special Branch handlers who worked with Haggarty when he was an informer.

“He was out doing a day’s work and people had him earmarked to be murdered.

“I want to find out why he was murdered.

“He was an innocent Catholic, he was doing nobody any harm where he was, he was out doing a day’s work and was sacrificed to save a police informant.

“We need to know the truth.”

PSNI Detective Chief Superintendent Raymond Murray said: “We realise that today has been a very difficult day for the families of those so tragically affected by the impact of these cases.

“Despite the strenuous efforts of detectives in the Operation Stafford team over a prolonged period of time, a number of the cases today have been judged by the PPS as having not reached the prosecutorial threshold.

“Decisions still have to be made in relation to potential prosecutions of three further suspects.”

He said any investigation into cases decades-old was very difficult.

Mr Murray added: “As time passes, these difficulties continue to grow and in the context of Northern Ireland’s tragic past the overall investigative challenges are complicated still further.

“Significant attempts have been made by the PSNI to bring justice to the families of the victims of the UVF in this part of Belfast but we fully realise that this provides little comfort to those who have had bad news today and whose grief remains undiminished with time.

“Our thoughts remain with them.”