LOYALIST killers were free to slaughter more than 100 people in the North of Ireland during the 1970s thanks to a litany of failures by the British State, according to a former RTÉ and BBC news reporter.
In her new book, Lethal Allies – which will be launched in London tomorrow night -Anne Cadwallader paints a shocking picture of the Troubles, claiming that a gang of paramilitaries colluded with British police and soldiers to kill innocent Catholics.
And she lays the blame for those deaths at the door of the British Government.
Branding Britain a “wholesale protagonist” in the conflict, Cadwallader, who currently works as a researcher at the Pat Finucane Centre in Armagh, said its revelations should challenge the country’s preferred view of itself as an “upright umpire” that tried to make peace between two warring tribes.
“The British State is just as much to blame as anyone for what happened, and for the fact it was prolonged unnecessarily for 35 years, and it was involved in collusion that fuelled the conflict,” she told The Irish Post.
Drawing on her 15 years of research into the alleged collusion, the experienced journalist added that Catholics were right to lose faith in the North’s system of law and order at the time.
Lethal Allies retraces the steps of the so-called ‘Mid-Ulster’ loyalist gang, claiming it carried out more than 120 savage sectarian killings over five years from 1972.
Its attacks ranged from individual shootings to the Dublin and Monaghan bombings.
Most of the gang’s victims were Catholic civilians and Ms Cadwallader claims large numbers of the killings directly or indirectly involved members of the now-defunct Royal Ulster Constabulary or the Ulster Defence Regiment.
That includes the gun and bomb attack on the Rock Bar in 1976, which the author says was conducted by three serving RUC officers.
But Ms Cadwallader traces the blame for killings back to the British Government’s failure to intervene.
She said it is “unacceptable” that the Ministry of Defence failed to take action against rogue UDR troops when official documents show that it knew as early as August 1973 that hundreds of the regiment’s soldiers, as much as 15 per cent of its total membership, had paramilitary links.
“The British State could have intervened at any point, but it didn’t,” she added.
Lethal Allies names more than 20 RUC and UDR members who were implicated in the killings. It is based largely on declassified papers from the British Government and investigations by the Historical Enquiries Team.
The Pat Finucane Centre, where Ms Cadwallader works, has appealed to “everyone on the island of Ireland carefully to consider the implications” of the book.
The human rights organisation hopes that the revelations will kick-start a campaign to replace the Historical Enquiries Team with a new system to help families learn why their loved ones were killed during the Troubles.
But the book’s claims have divided politicians in the North of Ireland.
Accusing Ms Cadwallader of “blurring the lines between fact and fiction”, unionist MLA Danny Kennedy said people were aware that the IRA carried out the majority of Troubles killings.
“This, and all other attempts by republicans to re-write history and seek to absolve themselves must be challenged as a distortion of both fact and history,” the UUP politician added.
But SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell welcomed the revelations in Lethal Allies for showing “just how deep and how high collusion ran in the security forces”.
“This latest publication emphasises that victims of the Troubles desperately need a truth and reconciliation process, however late,” he added.
Anne Cadwallader will host the British launch of Lethal Allies tomorrow (Wednesday) from 7pm at the London Irish Centre in Camden.