Police investigating the actions of a murderous band of undercover British soldiers in West Belfast in the 1970s have launched a drive for information.
The shadowy Military Reaction Force (MRF) – whose members have admitted to killing unarmed people – were behind a wave of terror in nationalist districts.
Seven months after the sensational admissions by former MRF members on the BBC’s Panorama programme of drive-by killings, the PSNI have begun the process of collating information about 18 MRF shootings, most of them in West Belfast, in which scores of people were wounded and two were killed.
The men who died were 44-year-old Patrick McVeigh (above left), shot dead at Riverdale in May 1972, and 18-year-old Daniel Rooney (above right), who was killed in the St James’ area in September of the same year.
Police say they’re investigating the following shootings:
- The fatal shooting of 44-year-old Patrick McVeigh and shootings of four other men, aged 18, 25, 26 and 41, in the Riverdale Park area on 12 May, 1972
- The fatal shooting of 18-year-old Daniel Rooney and shooting of an 18-year-old man in the St James’ Crescent area on 26 September, 1972
- The shooting of two brothers, aged 19 and 30, in the Whiterock Road area at approximately 8am on 15 April, 1972
- The shooting of an 18-year-old man in the Glen Road area at approximately 9pm on 6 May, 1972
- The shooting of a 15-year-old boy outside a disco at Oliver Plunkett School, Glen Road, at approximately 11.50pm on 7 May, 1972
- The shooting of an 18-year-old man in the Slievegallion area at approximately 11.30pm on 12 May, 1972
- The shooting at a 34-year-old man in the Silvio Street area of North Belfast at approximately 12.20pm on 26 May, 1972
- The shooting of four men, aged 18, 19, 21 and 28, in the Glen Road area at approximately noon on 22 June, 1972
- An incident during which a white Austin Morris vehicle (VRM COI8368) was shot at by a male who got out of what is believed to have been a stalled vehicle in the Kashmir Road area of West Belfast at approximately 2pm on 9 May, 1972
Detective Chief Inspector Peter Montgomery said police are interested in speaking both to eyewitnesses and former members of the MRF.
“We know these events took place a long time ago and we know they took place during one of the worst years of the Troubles when many shootings occurred but we believe there are people out there who can help us progress this investigation and we are appealing to them to contact us,” he said.
“Some of these incidents have been investigated before and people have been arrested or appeared in court in relation to some of them. There are also others which have not been investigated until now.
“But in order to progress this investigation, I need as much information from the public as possible.
“I am appealing to anyone who witnessed any of the shootings or anyone who has any further information in relation to them to come forward and talk to us.
“I also want to speak to former members of the MRF who served in Northern Ireland and would ask them to come forward and speak to my officers.
“I appreciate these incidents took place a long time ago but I believe there are people in the community and elsewhere today who were witnesses to them, remember them or talked about them.
“I need their help to progress this part of the overall investigation.
“I need the help and the support of the local community so if you think you can help, please contact us on 028 92589128."