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Friday 1 December 2023 Dublin: -1°C
The Troubles

Miss last night's exposé on Collusion? Here are 10 things we learned

The documentary aired last night.

RTÉ LAST NIGHT aired Collusion, a documentary which showed the link between loyalist paramilitaries and British security forces.

The documentary provoked calls for an independent inquiry, a demand that London stop shying away from the issue and widespread anger.

If you missed the programme, here’s what we learned:

An RUC unit linked up with loyalist paramilitaries to kill Catholics

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John Weir told how he was a member of an RUC unit which colluded with paramilitaries to carry out shootings and bombings members of the Republican community.

If ordinary Catholics were shot, nobody was too worried about it.

The programme also told the stories of a number of victims of murders, including Betty McDonald, murdered in 1976 by a UVF car bomb at the family pub in Armagh. John Weir was involved in that plot, he told the documentary team.

He said that the bomb that killed Betty McDonald was built at a house frequented by British Army and RUC sergeants. A surveillance unit which was watching the farm the night before the bombing was inexplicably withdrawn.

The car used, despite being reported stolen by a serving RUC officer, was never properly investigated by the force.

Lord Stevens, who conducted a decade-long investigation into the RUC said that the scale of leaks from the RUC to paramilitaries was extensive. He said that there was very little done about the leaks, despite a man named as an IRA operative being killed by the UDA.

Sir Hugh Orde, former PSNI chief, said that there was evidence that members of the security forces were operating outside the law.

The British Army knew loyalists had weapons, but “turned a blind eye”

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General Harry Tuzo, the head of the British Army knew that the Ulster Defence Association had arms, but decided to “turn a blind eye” to it, according to a declassified document.

This was as long as the weapons were confined to loyalist areas.

Some British figures felt they “had no alternative”

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Former Northern Ireland Security Minister Michael Mates said that the British authorities were co-operating with loyalist groups – because they felt that they were fighting the same enemy.

“If the paramilitaries in the Protestant communities want to protect their own communities and are being, I suppose the word is vigilantes, we will turn a blind eye to that.

And I don’t think they had any alternative.
Some felt the British Army was “lending” weapons to paramilitaries

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The Ulster Defence Regiment, a locally recruited and predominantly Protestant part of the British Army, was accused of lending equipment to paramilitaries. Sean Donlon, the former Secretary General of the Department of Foreign Affairs said that this accusation had been conveyed to him.

Donlon says he was told by British authorities told him they would only “fight the battle on one front”.

A number of murders were linked to collusion

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Former British police commander Dave Cox led a team of detectives in a review of Troubles-related murders. He told the documentary that there were numerous examples of collusion.

There were many examples of involvement by security forces in the commission of terror offences. The provision or loss of weapons to loyalist paramilitaries was at an alarming rate.

“There was a serious problem.”

The Dublin-Monaghan bombs were orchestrated by “bigger men”


The worst atrocity of the Troubles has been linked to the Glennane gang who carried out the bombing on the McDonald’s pub in 1976.

An Irish inquiry into the Dublin-Monaghan bombings found they had likely been planned at the farm. Weir says that “everybody knows who did Dublin-Monaghan”.

“The men who carried out the attacks, a lot of it was retaliation. But there were bigger men behind the scenes. Security forces, army intelligence, special branch who had their own motives.”

The Glennane gang were linked to atrocities, but never stopped


The gang were linked to such atrocities as the Miami Showband massacre, the bombings in Pomeroy and Silverbridge, but they were never stopped.

Former RUC Assistant chief constable Raymond White said that it was “undeniable” that the response was slow.

The response only began when one member ended up on a psychiatric ward and began talking. He and Weir were both sentenced to life in prison for the murder of a Catholic chemist.

White said that “where the RUC could prosecute, we prosecuted”.

Collusion was raised with the British Prime Minister


Both Jack Lynch and Liam Cosgrave directly raised their concerns with British leader Edward Heath. They were assured that it was not the case, but remained sceptical, said Donlon.

Cox says that papers his team had access to show that British authorities show that there was at least concern that UDR weapons were ending up in loyalist hands.

Civil war was a possibility – one that was planned for


Weir says that the British plan was designed knowing that if it was “pushed far enough” it could lead to all-out civil war.

“If there was a civil war, everybody was going to have to take a stand for their own side and there were men willing to do that.

At the end of the day, we had the UDR behind us, we had the guns. We would have confidence that it would be in our favour and we could crush the other side.

Protestants were killed as well


Former PSNI Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan said that when the IRA ceasefire was announced in 1994, a UVF gang in North Belfast kept killing, including killing Protestants.

They were like killing machines.

She says that she was pressured not to report what she had found in 2007 by senior government figures.

Watch the entire show here

Read: Police allowed informers to murder hundreds “with impunity”

Read: A LOT of people are shocked and angry watching RTÉ’s documentary on collusion

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