Families travel to High Court as Glenanne Gang cases commence

Denise Mullen in the arms of her mother at the funeral of her father, Denis, who was shot dead by loyalists in the 1970s. High-profile figures from the SDLP, including Gerry Fitt and Austin Currie, were also in attendance.
Denise Mullen in the arms of her mother at the funeral of her father, Denis, who was shot dead by loyalists in the 1970s. High-profile figures from the SDLP, including Gerry Fitt and Austin Currie, were also in attendance.

A landmark legal case taken by families whose loved ones were murdered by the notorious Glenanne Gang - including several from the Coalisland, Dungannon and Moy areas - will get underway this week.

Relatives of Patrick Falls from Aughamullan, as well as families of the victims of the Hillcrest Bar bombing in Dungannon, and the daughter of Moy SDLP activist Denis Mullen, will be among those travelling to the High Court in Belfast for the hearing.

Lawyers for more than 100 families will argue that the British state were “collectively involved in colluding with their various agencies and loyalist paramiltaries” in murders attributed to the Glenanne Gang during the period 1971 to 1978.

KRW Law, a Belfast based human rights legal firm, is leading many of the families in their pursuit of a Judicial Review of the Glenanne Series of murders, most of which took place in the Tyrone and Mid Ulster area known as the ‘Murder Triangle’.

According to the lawyers, up until the publication of the book Lethal Allies by former journalist Anne Cadwallader in 2013, the British government had “strenuously denied” that collusion had ever existed.

As the hearing gets underway this week, the families’ legal team will make the case that what occurred in the Glenanne Series of murders was “nothing other than a state practice of collusion”.

It is understood details of the various Glenanne cases will be opened up to the court, drawing on evidence from HET Reviews as well as evidence published in the Lethal Allies book.

Anne Cadwallader, the book’s author, hopes the High Court hearing will prompt the British government to realise the depths of the injustices inflicted on the families involved.

The former journalist turned researcher with the Pat Finucane Centre, said: “The bereaved families have endured not only the original murders, but over three decades of official government lies. Now they are forced to seek some justice through traumatic legal action. They want truth, acknowledgement and apology.”

SDLP and civil rights activist, Denis Mullen, a father of two young children who had just started a new job as an ambulance controller, was gunned down at his home near Moy by the loyalist gang in September, 1975.

His daughter, Denise, now a Dungannon councillor, welcomed the commencement of the families’ collective legal case, and said it was “another step forward” in what has been a lengthy and difficult process for all those seeking to find out the truth about their loved ones’ deaths.

Four people - teenagers Patrick Barnard and James McCaughey, as well as Joseph Kelly and Andrew Small - died as a result of a bomb placed in a stolen car outside the Hillcrest Bar on Donaghmore Road in Dungannon on St Patrick’s Day, 1976.