No collusion in Bleary murders says O'Loan

DAYS after the 14th anniversary of the UVF double murder of two Catholic brothers in Bleary, the Police Ombudsman has found no evidence of collusion in their deaths, but has said the subsequent investigation was 'flawed'.

Gerard Cairns (22) and his 18-year-old brother Rory were gunned down by two masked men who burst into the family home at Bleary on October 28, 1993.

Earlier that evening the family had been celebrating the 11th birthday of Gerard and Rory’s sister Roisin.

The Police Ombudsman has found no evidence of security force collusion in the UVF murder of the two young brothers, but has found that the police investigation of the murders, despite significant early effort, was flawed and cut short after three months.

No one has ever been convicted in connection with the murders, which happened in one of the bloodiest weeks of The Troubles in which 23 people died in a series of attacks including the Shankill bomb and the attack on the Rising Sun bar in Greysteel.

The Cairns family lodged a complaint with the Police Ombudsman which included allegations the police and army had prior knowledge of the attack on Gerard and Rory and had allowed a clear path for the murderers through what they believed to have been an unusually high level of security force activity in the area.

The family also alleged that the police had failed to carry out a proper investigation and had failed to keep the family updated on its progress.

Police Ombudsman investigators examined police documentation spanning nine years. They assessed intelligence relating to the murder, obtained maps and documentation from the army, and interviewed serving and retired police officers, 54 civilians and retired soldiers from the Royal Irish Regiment.

The Police Ombudsman, Mrs Nuala O’Loan, said: “This was a purely sectarian attack.”

However, Mrs O’Loan said the investigation of the murder had been flawed, and revealed that Special Branch had failed to pass on all relevant intelligence to the police inquiry team.

She said: “I acknowledge the enormous pressure on police during this difficult time. Nevertheless, it is unacceptable that the investigation effectively ended after just a few months and has not since been properly reviewed for new lines of enquiry.”