02/12/2011

Loughgall 'Was Shoot-to-Kill' Insists SF

Republicans have today insisted that the infamous Loughgall SAS 'ambush' was in fact a 'Shoot-to-Kill' operation.

Despite a leaked report today in the Belfast Telegraph, concluding that the IRA unit "opened fire first" with the SAS then leaving eight members of the IRA's 'East Tyrone Brigade' dead on 8 May 1987, Sinn Fein MLA Barry McElduff said: "The men killed at Loughgall were victims of a British Government policy of Shoot-to-Kill.

"Nobody believes that the British Army unit were sent into Loughgall that evening to arrest anybody.

"They were sent there to kill the IRA unit and that is what they did," he said in an Sinn Fein statement.

"If the HET [PSNI's Historical Enquiries Team] try and put forward a different theory it will say more about that group's credibility than anything else.

"The families of those killed at Loughgall deserve the truth. They do not deserve continuing cover-up and concealment by the British government or by the HET.

"The fact that this report was leaked to the media before being given to the families says much about the intent of the HET with regard to this investigation," he said.

The terrorists were killed as they approached the police station with a 200lb bomb, its fuse lit, in the bucket of a hijacked digger.

The IRA men who died were the East Tyrone IRA 'Commander' Patrick Kelly, 32; Declan Arthurs, 21; Seamus Donnelly, 19; Michael Gormley, 25; Eugene Kelly, 25; James Lynagh, 31, Patrick McKearney, 32 and Gerard O'Callaghan, 29.

A civilian, Anthony Hughes, 36, was killed and his brother badly wounded when they were caught up in the crossfire.

It had previously been believed that the SAS had fired first making the shootings at Loughgall RUC station one of the most controversial of the Troubles.

It was reported that the soldiers fired more than 600 bullets with the IRA men firing 70 shots.
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The Sinn Fein politician concluded: "The eight IRA Volunteers killed at Loughgall were much loved by their families and by the communities from which they came."

Reality

However, the DUP's Newry & Armagh MLA William Irwin has said that the legitimacy of the SAS team's actions that day must be accepted.

He also said that this dismissed the claims that a so-called 'Shoot-to-Kill' policy was in operation and questioned how the European Court of Human Rights could rule in 2001 that families of the men should receive £10,000 compensation.

"The PIRA gang which set out to attack Loughgall Police Station in 1987 had very clear objectives; the destruction of property and the murder of Police Officers. Indeed the weapons recovered from the IRA terrorists at Loughgall were used in at least seven murders.

"It is now reported that the HET investigators have concluded that the PIRA opened fire first and that the SAS team at Loughgall responded to this and could not safely make arrests.

"This clearly demonstrates that the SAS soldiers took the only available option to them," he said.

He added that, once again the Historical Enquiries Team have demonstrated their ability to shed very valuable new light on cold cases: "It highlights why they, and not bodies such as the Police Ombudsman's Office should be tasked with and given the necessary resources to review cases from the past."

The Ulster Unionist MLA Danny Kennedy has also welcomed the findings that the IRA gang which attacked Loughgall Police Station in May 1987 were the first to open fire, triggering the response by the SAS which left eight terrorists dead.

Mr Kennedy, who represents Newry & Armagh, the constituency in which the event took place, said: "I look forward to the publication of the HET Report into the Loughgall incident, but some facts are already very clear.

"The findings certainly nail the lie of the so-called 'Loughgall martyrs' and the questions as to why the terrorists involved weren't arrested," he said.

(BMcC)

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