The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg today gave judgment in favour of the families of eight men who were murdered by a Loyalist murder gang in the South Armagh area in the mid 1970’s.

The cases were taken to Strasbourg following the failure of the British Government to properly investigate detailed allegations made by a former member of the RUC, John Weir, about security force collusion.

The families’ legal representative, Fearghal Shiels, of Madden & Finucane, Solicitors, Belfast said:

“In 1999, the RUC purported to conduct a police investigation into John Weir’s allegations. The RUC took no steps to interview John Weir, and irrespective of the cogent and credible evidence of widespread collusion by members of UDR and RUC with a loyalist murder gang based in Mid-Ulster, concluded that his allegations were false.

Today’s findings by the European Court of Human Rights that the families’ human rights were breached by the UK Government vindicates the families’ central contention that there was a total lack of independence, transparency and accountability on the part of the RUC, in investigating the activities of this murder gang.”

The cases related to the deaths of Colm McCartney, who was murdered at Altnamackin in August 1975; Trevor Brecknell, who was murdered at Donnelly’s Bar, Silverbridge in December 1975; John, Brian and Anthony Reavey, murdered at Whitecross and Joseph, Barry and Declan O’Dowd murdered near Gilford on the same evening as the Reavey brothers in January 1976 and the wounding of Michael McGrath in a gun attack at the Rock Bar, Keady in June 1976.

The families are today arranging to meet with their solicitors to discuss the important implications of the ruling.