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Survivors of loyalist massacre in Belfast hit out as state agencies handed police ombudsman report

DETAILS of a keystone report on the massacre of five people at Sean Graham Bookmaker’s, Belfast, in 1992 may have been given to state agencies months before the victims’ families, it has been alleged.   

The Police Ombudsman’s Operation Achilles report, which examined a total of 12 killings and one attempted murder, was due to be released in the autumn.

But publication was delayed after objections by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).

Mark Sykes, who was injured in the attack when loyalist gunmen opened fire in the betting shop on Ormeau Road, said that it was “grossly unfair” and another blow to victims and survivors.

Mr Sykes, whose brother-in-law Peter Magee was one of those killed, said on Wednesday night that the victims and relatives "have waited patiently for the truth and accountability.”

“We were recently informed that the PSNI now have ‘national security’ concerns and that public interest immunity, gagging orders to conceal truth, is required,” he said.

“When the families asked about this the chief constable referred to other agencies. We want to know which agencies and why.”

“This is unacceptable and grossly unfair. This is adding to the stress, anxiety and trauma of the families and survivors.”

Part of the investigation involved five people shot dead by the loyalist paramilitary Ulster Defence Association at Sean Graham’s Bookmakers, a case in which British collusion is strongly suspected.

Nobody has been held responsible, but it is widely believed that leading UDA figures Joe Bratty and Raymond Elder were involved in planning the attack.

They were shot dead in a suspected Irish Republican Army hit in 1994. 

In 2010 investigations by the now-disbanded Historical Enquiries Team found that a Browning pistol used by the gunmen had been given to them by the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

Investigators were told by police that the weapon had been destroyed, but it was later found on display in the Imperial War Museum.

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