The sudden death on Saturday night of British Army double agent Brian Nelson – just days before the release of the Stevens Inquiry into British Army/RUC collusion with loyalists in the murder of Catholics - has added further to calls for a fuller investigation into the directing of the UDA.
Nelson’s death is the latest in a list of untimely deaths of other known agents, according to Relatives For Justice, who represent families of victims of state violence. And RFJ spokesman Mark Thompson has also advised Nelson’s family to consider an independent autopsy on his remains.
"The death of Brian Nelson just days before a 15-page excerpt of a 3,000 page report of the Stevens Inquiry into collusion is to be made public, along with the untimely deaths of other known agents, will add further to the calls for a fuller investigation into the controlling, arming and directing of the UDA which affected hundreds of families and thousands of lives across our community.
“Nelson's rise within the UDA was strategic from the outset, orchestrated and meticulously planned by senior British Army personnel in Whitehall and sanctioned by the then Thatcher government.
“This action ensured that the British intelligence community through Nelson directly controlled the UDA death squads, their targeting, information, and weapons procurements.
“This was in addition to RUC Special Branch also placing their agents within that same organisation,” said Mr Thompson.
Belfast Mayor Alex Maskey – who was himself targeted by Nelson – also said that Brian Nelson’s death added further weight to calls for a full public inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane.
“Brian Nelson’s death, coming just days ahead of the expected publican of the Stevens report, adds further weight to the calls for a full public inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane.
“Many of those publicly identified as playing a role in the killing have themselves now died.
“But the questions for the British Government will remain until the truth behind collusion is uncovered.”
And SDLP West Belfast MLA Alex Attwood has added his call for an inquiry.
“The death of Brian Nelson and the events of this week should all add to the arguments for the convening of an independent, international, public, judicial inquiry into the Finucane case and the activities of FRU,” said Alex Attwood.