The father of a Belfast man who was murdered by a Loyalist paramilitary group in 1997 has secured his plea to have a U.S. congressional hearing into his son’s murder next month.
Raymond McCord, father of Raymond McCord Junior, 22 at the time of his death, spent a week in May on Capitol Hill lobbying members of Congress to seek a hearing into his son’s murder.
McCord got word late Monday night that a hearing will take place October 22 at the House Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Rights and Oversight.
“I’m absolutely delighted with the news,” McCord told the Irish Voice on Tuesday.
“I just can’t praise the members of Congress and also the senators in America for all they have done. They never once asked me over there if I was Protestant or Catholic. They were just interested in my story,” he added.
“The people in America are making a big difference in Raymond’s case.”
Raymond Junior, a radar operator in the Royal Air Force, was found beaten to death in Ballyduff Quarry on the outskirts of north Belfast on November 9, 1997. He was murdered by members of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) to protect a senior Loyalist and a police informant who was being investigated by UVF leadership over involvement in drug dealing.
For nine years McCord fought a hopeless campaign claiming that his son’s killers were Special Branch informers who were allowed to kill citizens with knowledge of their police handlers.
McCord claimed that the man who murdered his son, Mark Haddock, was a police informer and that collusion had taken place.
It wasn’t until a UVF attack on a Belfast doorman, Trevor Gowdy, in December 2002, that McCord’s accusations were taken seriously. Haddock was arrested and charged with Gowdy’s attempted murder.
It later emerged that Haddock was recruited as an informer by two RUC detectives, Johnson “Jonty” Brown and Trevor McIlwrath, in 1985.
Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland Nuala O’Loan, after a vigorous campaign for truth by McCord, carried out a 3 1/2 year investigation into Raymond’s murder. The final report, released in 2007, concluded that over a number of years British police colluded with loyalists in over a dozen murders in north Belfast.
McCord, who lives in Belfast, said he wanted to extend a special thanks to Congressman Bill Delahunt, who treated McCord like he knew him for several years.
“Bill Delahunt and all the congressmen showed me great sympathy, unlike my own Unionist politicians here,” said McCord. “I just can’t praise the Congress members enough.”
McCord, a pipe fitter by trade, also said if it wasn’t for the efforts of Father Sean McManus of the Irish National Caucus out of Washington, his son’s case would never be heard on Capitol Hill.
McCord initially reached out to McManus for support two years ago while on a similar lobbying visit to Washington. They had a second meeting in Fermanagh last year while McManus was visiting his home place.
“Fortunately for my family a stranger, who happened to be a Roman Catholic priest, decided to help,” said McCord.
“Fr. Sean has been just fantastic. He has to take a lot of credit for making this hearing possible.”
McCord, who received a personal letter of support from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, hopes that Clinton might get a chance to stop by the hearing in October.