Damian Walsh 30th anniversary speech by Mark Thompson

The truth carries a weight that lies cannot counterfeit


Mark Thompson – 25th March 2023


Speech at the 30th anniversary of the murder of Damian Walsh 25th March 1993, Dairy Farm, Stewartstown Road, BELFAST.

We should not be standing here today – 30 years on from the murder of Damien.

Damien Walsh should be alive today – 30 years older – his mother, Marian, should be walking through that door with his children, her grandchildren, treating them on a Saturday – spoiling them like all grandmothers should. living the life that should have been as Damien neared 50.

But of course, that is not the case. Sadly, we are here.

It is important that we mark the 30th anniversary of the murder of Damien and stand with and support the Walsh family. Events like this help ease the heavy burden of loss and the pain.

The RUC special branch and the British military are the reasons we stand here today. Their actions – their decisions – at best knowingly permitted Damien’s murder – at worst sanctioned it. Whilst the UDA claimed the attack – in truth, these agencies are responsible: just as they were in the murder of Pat Finucane and hundreds of other murders involving collusion. MI5 had direct control and oversight. The British government bear directly responsibility.

In the wake of Damien’s murder and faced with such loss and trauma – such horror – Marian Walsh stood forward and refused to go away. Refused to accept this was just another sectarian murder. Refused to accept the RUC attempts to cover it up. Refused to accept that Damien’s murder was less than the murder of anyone else or less deserving of attention in the media.

Marian has fought an uphill battle everyday since. She lodged her complaint to the Police Ombudsman under Nuala O’Loan two decades ago. In 2021 Marian was vindicated in the findings that were published.

The Police Ombudsman found:

  • Covert surveillance on the UDA’s notorious murder gang – the so-called ‘C-company’ – had been suspended – lifted by special branch – at a time when the UDA were most likely to carryout attacks.
  • This enabled the UDA to murder Damien.
  • Significant failings in the investigation into Damien’s murder. This ensured those responsible were never brought to justice. A cover-up.
  • Instead, a covert surveillance operation was placed on this vicinity by the BA.
  • This would have undoubtedly observed the UDA attack, yet no actions were taken to prevent this or to apprehend those responsible.

And be under no illusion the pretext to this attack was to raid nearby premises and in doing so shift the emphasis from the attack to what was allegedly discovered. This makes the murder of Damien all the more appalling. Indeed, the subsequent consequences that flowed from these events also rests on the shoulders of those within special branch and the British military.

As a community, as a society, we owe Marian, and many mothers and relatives like her, a great deal of gratitude. She and her family have conducted themselves with great dignity and forbearance in the face of such horror that is the policy practice of collusion – they have faced collusion deniers, defenders of the indefensible – those who would seek to undermine and vilify families who suffer egregious violations and dare speak out. The Walsh family had the courage to stand up when all was stacked against them, from the mainstream media, the status quo, to the justice system. We thank them for doing so.

It is because of the Marian Walsh’s of this country that we know more about collusion and what happened here 30 years ago.

And let’s reflect on what we do know

Sir Desmond De Silva’s review into the murder of Pat Finucane (Dec 2012) found that 85% of all intelligence in hands of the UDA, for the purposes of killing Catholics, nationalists and republicans, came from RUC special branch;

Sir John Stevens (April 2003) as part of his three exhaustive enquiries into collusion questioned 210 non-state actors to the conflict – 207 were paid state agents within illegal paramilitary organisations;

Operation Greenwich (Jan 2022)– the Police Ombudsman’s investigation into a series of UDA murders in the northwest region (mainly south Derry) confirmed the involvement of RUC/UDR/RIR/FRU members in 19 murders by the UDA. Today also marks the anniversary of Castlerock attack that claimed four lives;

Operation Achille (Feb 2022) – the Police ombudsman’s investigation into 27 murders by the UDA in south Belfast over a several year period found the involvement of 8 special branch agents;

The rearming of loyalism with weapons from the South African apartheid regime in the late 1980’s directly led to 229 murders from the period of 1988 – 1994 (RFJ Collusion Report);

The dissemination of thousands of files by the RUC, UDR/RIR, FRU et al assisted loyalist attacks;

The lifting of roadblocks and RUC/BA patrols from areas prior to attacks ensured killers were given a free hand;

The covert activity – watching their handywork;

Just like in the killing of Sam Marshall – up to dozen undercover BA – observed the murder yet failed to prevent it – and that of Roseanne Mallon where orders were given not intervene when her home was attacked, and she was murdered;

Many of these factors were live and present in the murder of Damien Walsh here 30 years ago at this business, community and shopping complex.

The Police Ombudsman’s report into Damien’s murder found collusion – collusive behaviour may well be the technical/legal term (and I will address this) but make no mistake if it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, quacks like a duck – then it’s a collusion duck.

Families, like the Walsh’s, have been under attack in a rear-guard action mounted by the very people who are being investigated by the Police Ombudsman. Former members of RUC special branch have initiated a series of vexatious legal challenges, unsuccessfully, seeking to overturn findings in the previous mentioned reports. The same cabal have also influenced and sought the support of significant individuals within the PSNI to do their bidding. This too includes the Police Federation representing rank and file PSNI members. In addition to this they have also subverted the process whereby disclosure is made to inquests, civil cases, and to the Police Ombudsman. Having retired under the Patten Severance package with healthy financial packages former special branch were rehired as ‘civilian consultants’ effectively slotting back into their previous roles; abusing the very process designed to weed out undesirables in the policing transitionary period.

When the previous Ombudsman, Dr Michael Maguire, was forced to apply for leave to the Belfast High Court in order to challenge the PSNI CC’s refusal to provide him with the necessary documents and information to conduct his enquires into collusion, including the above incidents, he told the families, RFJ, lawyers and the media:

“I’m not going to permit a situation whereby the very people who are the subject of my investigations will determine what information I get and what information I do not get.”

The actions of these former police officers is designed to thwart and delay truth – in this instance the work of the Police Ombudsman. They continue to use their power and influence to shield their activities. Whilst these delaying tactics are no doubt very frustrating for victims they are not working – thankfully.

In order to circumvent and overcome such tactics the Police Ombudsman has used the term collusive behaviours. There is no difference. It remains collusion. And still the vexatious challenges come. It’s an indication of desperation to maintain the false status quo narratives of the past – namely that the special branch were a force for good. But the facts are clear. The reports are clear. The evidence is clear. And the truth is laid bare for all to see. They were a force of shame.

Marian’s journey – Damien’s story – her battle – reveals an important piece of the collusion jigsaw that we all build in exposing those behind this heinous policy that impacted so many and took so many lives.

The murder of Damien Walsh fits an all too familiar pattern of state collusion. It was a state murder.

There is a saying: The truth carries a weight that lies cannot counterfeit.

Marian Walsh has certainly shown us all that.