Weapons are evidence in ongoing investigations says brother of murder victim

Posted By: June 14, 2016

Allison Morris. Irish News. Tuesday, June 14, 2016

ANY new decommissioning scheme should be put on hold until dozens of killings linked to a shipment of loyalist weapons are investigated, a murder victim’s brother has said.

Danny Lavery, whose brother Martin (40) was killed with one of the guns in 1992, said he was shocked at the level of collusion revealed in the Police Ombudsman report on the Loughinisland massacre last week.

The same weapon that killed the father-of-five was recovered after the loyalist attack on the Heights Bar two years later when six Catholics were shot dead while watching a World Cup game.

It came from a loyalist shipment brought into Northern Ireland from South Africa a few years earlier.

The ombudsman report raised questions about why all the weapons were not intercepted as “informants at the most senior levels within loyalist paramilitary organisations” were involved.

The guns went on to be used in at least 70 murders and numerous attempted murders.

Civil actions against the chief constable have already been lodged in just under 30 cases but that figure could rise in the coming months.

A panel set up as part of the Fresh Start Agreement said last week that a new decommissioning scheme should be set up to deal with fresh requests from paramilitary groups wanting to put arms beyond use.

But Mr Lavery, a former Sinn Féin councillor, said the proposals should be placed in “cold storage” until all remaining investigations are carried out.

“It is a way of dumping evidence in a legal manner and while these killings are being looked at again it shouldn’t even be considered,” he said.

“Even if further decommissioning goes ahead they can always get new guns anyway so it really is politically pointless.”

Solicitor Niall Murphy, who represents the Loughinisland families and others murdered by the South African weapons, also said any remaining weapons should be “subject to full forensic examination.”