Collusive behaviour - the perfect whitewash for state murder
11 February 2022
Relatives of those killed and injured in the bookmakers attack gather to remember them.
As we argued in our last article reporting police involvement in loyalist atrocities, "collusive behaviours" is to become the latest buzzword in explain away the history of state terror in the North.
A 344-page report by Police Ombudsman, Marie Anderson, covers eight loyalist attacks in which 11 people were murdered, including five people murdered at the Sean Graham Bookmakers on the Ormeau Road on February 5, 1992.
She identified significant investigative and intelligence failures and “collusive behaviours” by the RUC.
The report identified "eight UDA/UFF members who were linked"…"to the murders and attempted murders of 27 people” and that “all eight individuals were police informants”.
Police activities involved making guns available to loyalists, failing to inform victims of their danger, failing to investigate and destroying evidence and files.
However the report also states that the investigation “has found no evidence that police were in possession of intelligence which, if acted on, could have prevented any of the attacks detailed in this public statement”.
“The complainants were also concerned that informants were protected from arrest and conviction. I have found no evidence of this during the course of this investigation.”
An analysis of the report indicates that we have arrived at a deeper level of cover-up. Collusive serves the same function as institutional racism did for the metropolitan police. There was something wrong but it was a cultural thing and no-one was to blame.
In fact, the Anderson report simply regurgitates the standard defence of the police. They were protecting sources so that, in the long run, the would more readily be able to round up the killer squads.
This doesn't begin to make sense. The eight loyalists were not observing sectarian killing. They were to the fore in carrying on the murder campaign. The police role was in support of a state terror campaign and a decades long cover up.
This isn't a legacy issue. The UDA and UVF still exist and still have a great deal of impunity, as well as a presence in many areas of civic society in receipt of state funds. The police disrupted last year's commemoration of the Ormeau bookies massacre and arrested one of the relatives. At the same time they escorted a loyalist gang staging a show of force through East Belfast. The tranche of nationalists who signed up for the "new" PSNI are quietly leaving and nationalist support is declining.
Everyone understands this. What is not so clearly understood is that the nationalist middle class and Irish capitalism see this as a price worth paying.
So when the families of the victims and their solicitor protest, they do so alone. Sinn Féin were able to defuse anger at the attack on last year's commemoration by meeting PSNI chief constable Simon Byrne but refusing to call for his resignation.
Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald responded to the Anderson report by finger wagging the Irish Taoiseach in the Dail, demanding that the Irish government oppose London's plans to give a blanket amnesty to British forces for all crimes past, present and future. Apparently Sinn Fein, half of the Northern administration, can think of nothing they can do themselves - not even resign from the Police Boards that theoretically oversee the police. Following her diversion to the Irish government Mary Lou immediately pivoted to the right wing of the Irish middle class by offering congratulations on her platinum centenary to the head of the British armed forces, Elizabeth Windsor
In the background sits Drew Harris, current leader of the Garda and former deputy chief constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, where he openly moved to bury all investigations into collaboration between the police and loyalist killers.
No one can see him, no one can remember his past and certainly no one is calling for his resignation.