Top cop to lead new probe into Glenanne Gang killings

Personal belongings of the Miami showband members lie in the foreground as police officers examine the scene of the ambush of the band's minibus on the road between Banbridge and Newry in 1975.
Personal belongings of the Miami showband members lie in the foreground as police officers examine the scene of the ambush of the band's minibus on the road between Banbridge and Newry in 1975.

The ‘interests of the victims’ of the notorious Glenanne Gang will be at the heart of the new investigation, headed by former Chief Constable Jon Boutcher.

He is currently in charge of Operation Kenova, an investigation into a range of activities surrounding an individual codenamed Stakeknife.

The Glenanne Gang, alleged to be made up of dozens of individuals including some with links to the security services and military intelligence, were thought to be responsible fo r the murders of around 120 people.

The majority of those killed by the loyalist gang were in the Co Armagh area, including Portadown, Lurgan and their hinterlands.

The gang has been linked to a number of other mass murders, including the 1975 Miami Showband Massacre in which three members of the popular group were shot dead.

Members are believed to have been responsible for killing 33 people in the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings.

The Independent Police Team is to conduct an analytical report on collusion as ordered by the court in the case of Edward Barnard in what has become known as the Glenanne Series.

Assistant Chief Constable George Clarke said: “Our thoughts first and foremost are with all of the families affected by these incidents. They like too many other families have suffered as a result of the Troubles and, understandably, they continue to seek answers in respect of the deaths of their loved ones.

“Following the Court of Appeal judgment on 05 July the Chief Constable undertook to commence work to appoint the Independent Police Team and he has now asked for the assistance of Jon Boutcher to head this team to conduct the analytical report on collusion as ordered by the court.”

Mr Boutcher said: “The review of the Glenanne Gang Series will have the interests of the victims, and their loved ones at its very heart.

“I have started to meet with the families and their representatives, and have promised each of them that I will do everything I can to establish the truth about who was responsible for these terrible crimes. For the families that especially means finding out about what, if any, assistance was given to the Glenanne Gang by others in any manner whatsoever, and that will include whether people turned a blind eye to what was happening.

“If anyone has any information about these crimes please do contact me through the Op Kenova website. Any enquiry or investigation is only as good as the information it receives. The Barnard Review will seek to recover records and information from wherever such information might be held, not only from PSNI records” said Mr Boutcher who asked for the media to take in reporting the Review and consider the families’ feelings.