THE murderous activities of one of mid-Ulster’s most prolific loyalist death squads is set to be laid bare in a new documentary planned by the director of harrowing collusion film Unquiet Graves.
Film-maker Sean Murray is in the pre-production stages of a tell-all feature film focusing on Billy ‘King Rat’ Wright’s notorious UVF brigade and his gang’s deadly links to the security services. The follow-up to Unquiet Graves, which aired on RTE to huge viewing figures of 21o,000 this week, will focus on countless sectarian murders carried out by Wright’s death squad in East Tyrone during the 80s and 90s. It will explore Britain’s shoot-to-kill policy which ran alongside some of the Troubles’ most callous murders carried out by loyalist hit teams whose victims included a heavily pregnant women and elderly civilians. Collusion claims, similar to those revealed in the West Belfast man’s hard-hitting film shown to TV audiences last week for the first time, are also expected to be revealed.
“I’ll not give too much away but we are already in pre-production for that film,” the 44-year-old director told the Sunday World. “It will concentrate on the killings in East Tyrone, and how the strategy by the British Government changed.” Commenting on Wednesday night’s RTE’s milestone screening of his Glennane Gang film, he said: “I viewed it as being something very historic indeed considering that it’s the first time that an independent film of that nature has been shown uncut. “To be able to just actually pierce public consciousness in the south about what happened with regards to the activities of the Glennane Gang, in the north and south, is just something that is historic. “I wanted to represent an overarching story on collusion, there are many aspects in many different areas but I think for me the Glennane Gang, those series of killings, was something that was monumental.
“There was a nature that this was something very, very big and I thought if I made a film on the Glennane Gang it would give a real sense of what was happening in other areas and not just those series of killings. “And I think there were many aspects to what happened with the Glennane Gang. You had the UDR, you had the RUC and how they were in cahoots with the UVF, and the scale of killings, over 120 people, 120 civilians. “People who were doing well, SDLP members, GAA members. So, for me it was something that could pierce public consciousness like the south or in Britain,” he said. “And if it shocks someone like me who has lived through the conflict and has been surrounded by it in West Belfast, then what is that going to do to an English audience that hasn’t been affected by the political violence that surrounded us?” The film, first released in 2018, details how rogue members of the RUC and UDR worked alongside loyalist paramilitary killers targeting civilians in the so-called “murder triangle” spanning counties Armagh and Tyrone.
The murder machine became known as the Glennane Gang, responsible for around 120 sectarian murderers of farmers, shopkeepers, publicans and other innocents in a terror campaign through the 1970s. That included the 1976 bombing of the Step Inn in Keady, in which two Catholics, Elizabeth McDonald and Gerard McGleenon, were murdered. The activities of prolific UVF killer Robin ‘The Jackal’ Jackson, a known security force agent, was also featured. The state-backed murderer has been linked to the Dublin and Monaghan bombings, the Miami Showband massacre and countless sectarian murders. In the film he was identified by the grieving widow of Pat Campbell, blasted to death on the doorstep of his Banbridge home in 1973, as being one of the gunmen.
Former RUC officer and self-confessed Glennane Gang member John Weir also gave a chilling account of an aborted plan to launch a gun attack on a Catholic primary school. Despite wide-spread praise and reviews, the critically acclaimed film was also subject to some criticism from unionist circles. UUP MLA Doug Beattie, a former British soldier, accused the programme of being “biased and unbalanced”. He also likened the documentary to “anti-state propaganda”. Said Murray: “I understand that there are victims on the other side, and I think what Unquiet Graves does is, it tells a story about victims of state violence very sensitively, it’s not agitprop, it’s not in your face. “No matter what work we do, if you are dealing with sensitive issues around legacy, we need to be mindful of victims right across the political spectrum, and I hope my work does that.” The feature film, narrated by Oscar-nominated actor Stephen Rea, was inspired by the painstaking work of the human rights groups The Pat Finucane Centre, Dublin-based Justice for the Forgotten and journalist Anne Cadwallader’s best-selling book, Lethal Allies. Ms Cadwallader said it was “incredibly gratifying” to see the reaction to victims and survivors’ stories being screened on TV. “I’m glad obviously that it has had such a huge reaction on social media, I’m disappointed that more politicians haven’t commented because you would have thought that on both sides of the border when they watched it, and they should have watched it, maybe there’s something happening behind the scenes I don’t know,” she said.
“But I am very, very critical of the British government whose responsibility of what happened in Lethal Allies is. We have had nothing from the British government.” The campaigning journalist added: “In the film Sean said 11 of them had died since we began the legal actions through the courts to get an inquiry which is now being headed by Jon Boutcher. “But that figure of 11 is now up to 25 people have died waiting for the British government to respond to the book. “They had masses of opportunity and not only have they not acknowledged or apologised, they haven’t even met the families.” “Eugene Reavey who lost his three brothers, a man who lost his mother and two brothers in three different attacks, two of which were linked to the Glennane Gang, who has never had a single letter or acknowledgment from London that anything wrong happened. “I feel angry and sad on their behalf because, I am a Brit and I feel that my government has treated these people appallingly, cruelly and offensively. “No-one can be above the law, least of all those paid to uphold it.”
With many thanks to the: Sunday World and EXCLUSIVE story by Patricia Devlin for the original story –firstname.lastname@example.org