30/10/2001

Republicans blamed for “brutal” murder in Strabane

The Royal Ulster Constabulary have said they believe republican paramilitaries were responsible for the murder of a Protestant man outside the County Tyrone home of his 16 year old Catholic girlfriend.

Two masked gunmen opened fire on Charles Folliard, aged 30, in Strabane around 11.30pm on Monday October 29, as he left the Oakland Park home of his 16-year-old girlfriend.

The victim, who was hit in the head and leg as he sat in his car, had loyalist paramilitary connections and had been convicted of conspiracy to murder in 1991.

Mr Folliard was taken to Altnagelvin hospital in Londonderry but died on arrival. His family have made a public appeal for no retaliation for his murder.

The police commander for Strabane, Superintendent Clifford Best said it was a “cold and brutal execution of a man in front of his girlfriend”.

He said at this stage it appeared republicans were responsible but which faction was still unclear. He said: “We believe paramilitaries were behind this murder and we are confident that republican terrorists were involved. A sectarian motive is one of the avenues we are looking at. This was a Protestant shot dead leaving his girlfriend's home. She is a Catholic. But it is too early to definitively state the motive behind this attack.”

Sinn Féin MP for the area Pat Doherty has also condemned the attack but has maintained that the IRA had no part to play in Mr Folliard’s death: “I categorically and absolutely refute the fact that republicans were involved in this killing. I believe the IRA ceasefire is still intact. Whoever carried it out were enemies of the peace process and the current developments."

Ulster Unionist assembly member Derek Hussey said it was a shocking murder after the decision by republicans to make a first move on disarming last week.

SDLP West Tyrone assembly member Eugene McMenamin said the shooting must be condemned by all sides in the community. He said: “Last week people throughout Northern Ireland were given hope by the IRA statement on decommissioning. We looked forward to a brighter future and hoped shootings and bombings may become consigned to the past. Tragically it seems this is not the case.”

The police in Strabane have appealed for anyone with more information on the killing to come forward. (AMcE)

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