Collusion Fact File
30th March 2004 --
The murder of citizens through collusion with Unionist death
squads is a British state policy in Ireland. Collusion is the control,
resourcing and direction of loyalist death squads by British state agencies.
Those who sanctioned the policy of collusion have never been held accountable.
Collusion has not ended. The British apparatus which
operates the policy of collusion continues in existence. Until the mechanisms
have been dismantled, the strategy disowned and the truth revealed collusion
cannot be consigned to the history books.
Collusion - a British State Policy
Collusion has been part of the Six County state since its
creation. British forces and unionist paramilitaries have routinely shared
intelligence, weapons and personnel. But in the 1980's, under the premiership of
Margaret Thatcher, collusion became much more controlled and refined. Specific
mechanisms were established to control and direct the loyalist death squads.
State sponsored murder was established as a formal,
politically sanctioned, tactic at the heart of British policy in Ireland.
The case of Brian Nelson is illustrative of this British
state policy and the levels at which it was sanctioned and protected. Nelson was
a British agent placed inside the UDA who rose to the rank of UDA Intelligence
Officer. At this level he controlled all intelligence information used in
identifying targets for the UDA killer gangs.
In an investigation of Nelson's role, the BBC's Panorama
team said, "By our count, at least 80 people listed on Nelson's targeting files
were attacked. 29 were shot dead."
The cover up of Nelson's role involved the then British PM
John Major, who, prior to Nelson's trial, met the trial Judge Basil Kelly and
the head of the British judiciary in the north, Chief Judge Brian Hutton.
It involved the then Attorney General Patrick Mayhem, who
constructed a plea bargain to ensure that Nelson's role was never scrutinised in
open court and to ensure the minimum penalty for his actions. It involved the
British Defence Minister and former NIO Secretary of State Tom King who provided
a character reference for Nelson.
The actions of these agents and agencies were not the work
of mavericks. If that had been the case the British state would have logically
moved to expose and prosecute those involved. On the contrary, the British state
went to inordinate lengths to protect their agents and to conceal their
activities. The activities of these agents was, without question, official
Directing the Unionist Death Squads
The British state, through agencies like the British Army
intelligence unit, the Force Research Unit, and the Special Branch, rearmed,
reorganised and directed loyalist death squads. Hundreds of people were killed
as a result of this policy of state orchestrated murder.
Re-Arming the Unionist Death Squads
In late 1987, a number of loyalist paramilitary groups
co-operated to import a large consignment of modern weapons into the north of
Ireland. Central to this operation were a number of British Intelligence agents
working both in South Africa and within the Loyalist groups, including Brian
Nelson. British intelligence encouraged, facilitated and was at all times fully
aware of the progress of this operation.
The deadly arsenal of weapons imported included:
• 200 modern automatic rifles;
• 90 Browning semi-automatic pistols;
• 500 fragmentation grenades;
• 12 rocket launcher's;
• 30,000 rounds of ammunition.
Supplying unionist paramilitaries with modern weaponry had
an immediate and deadly impact on the number of killings in the north of
Ireland. Within six years of the arrival of these weapons loyalist murder gangs
had increased their capacity to kill by 300%. In the six years prior to the
weapons shipment, loyalists killed 71 people. In the subsequent six years
loyalist killed 229 people.
Resourcing the Unionist Death Squads
Through a network of agents the British state identified
targets, supplied intelligence and provided back up to the killers. For example,
through their agent Brian Nelson, British Intelligence up-dated and refined all
the UDA's intelligence files to ensure that their targeting, to quote a British
intelligence report, was 'more professional'.
British State Assisted Murder
The British Army unit, FRU had the authority to ensure
loyalist gunmen had a clear run to and from their target. All Brutish military
and police patrols were withdrawn from designated areas, leaving a free run for
British State Protection for the Killers
Special Branch ensured that any investigation into the
killing did not result in prosecutions, through the exercise of the Walker
criteria, allowing them total control over investigations, arrests and
The British state established an effective murder machine
that enabled them to commission the killing of citizens within its own
jurisdiction and beyond. The British justified collusion by arguing that they
were 'taking the war to the IRA'. In reality, once the machinery of murder was
up and running no one was safe.
Directed by British state agencies, loyalist death squads
• Sinn Féin elected representatives;
• Sinn Féin activists and members of their families;
• Civil rights activists;
• Election workers;
• Defence lawyers;
• Irish language activists;
• Catholic civilians.
They killed to cover their agents' tracks. They killed
agents who had outlived their usefulness and loyalists who knew too much. And
they sacrificed their own soldiers and members of the RUC to retain their
For decades the British government denied that a policy of
collusion existed. However, after 14 years, the third enquiry by John Stevens
uncovered, in his words, "collusion, the willful failure to keep records, the
absence of accountability, the withholding of intelligence and evidence, and the
extreme of agents being involved in murder".
The report also concludes, "nationalists were known to be
targeted but were not properly warned or protected".
This "unlawful involvement of agents in murder" he
concludes, "implies that the security forces sanction killings".
Hundreds of people were killed, and many more injured and
maimed, in a campaign of British state-sponsored murder.
The British government has never accepted its responsibility
for the deaths which resulted from this policy.
The politicians who sanctioned this policy have never been
called to account for their actions or for their culpability in the murder of
No member of the Special Branch or British Military
Intelligence has been indicted for these crimes.
The policy of collusion has never been reversed. It remains
The British agencies, which executed this policy, remain in
The policy of employing the loyalist death squads was not
the actions of rogue agents or individuals who overstepped their
responsibilities. It was a policy endorsed at the highest political level.
The victims of collusion and their families have a right to
the truth about collusion and the true role of the British state and its
agencies in Ireland over 30 years of conflict.
Fírínne (the Irish word for truth) is the campaign for the
truth about collusion between British state agencies and Unionist death squads
in the killing of citizens in Ireland.
Fírinne wants to see:
• The policy of collusion ended;
• Full disclosure by the British government of all
information on its policy of collusion;
• The dismantling of the structures and agencies which
implemented this policy of state murder;
• e-mail Fírinne at:
• donations to An Fhírinne, 1a Cullingtree Road, Belfast
BT12 4JU, Ireland.