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5 December 2003 Edition

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Tribunal must probe Garda investigation of Fullerton killing

Sinn Féin TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has called for the Morris Tribunal to inquire into the events surrounding the murder of Donegal Sinn Féin County Councillor Eddie Fullerton in 1991 and the inadequate garda investigation of the killing. One of the gardaí centrally involved in that investigation is now facing serious allegations before the Morris Tribunal.

Speaking in last week's Dáil debate on the Morris Tribunal, Ó Caoláin said the terms of reference should not only be extended to cover the role of Garda management and the government as sought by the Labour Party motion, but also the events surrounding Eddie Fullerton's murder. He told the Dáil:

"The amendment to the motion in the name of the Sinn Féin deputies centres on the murder of our colleague, Sinn Féin County Councillor Eddie Fullerton, in his home in Buncrana, County Donegal on 25 May 1991. We have put down this amendment because, like Eddie Fullerton's family, to whom we extend our continuing sympathy, we do not believe that a proper investigation into his murder has been carried out by the Garda Síochána. Given the web of corruption in the gardaí in Donegal, over an extended period of years, and now being exposed daily at the Morris Tribunal, we believe their conduct in this case must be thoroughly examined.

"Eddie Fullerton was a dear friend of mine and one of the most popular public representatives in the country. He was highly respected across the political spectrum in his native County of Donegal. His energy, his honesty, his commitment to people, drew others to him instinctively. The day before Eddie was murdered he was elated because it was officially confirmed that a project he had pioneered as a lone voice for years was finally about to become a reality. The Fullerton-Pollen dam stands as a lasting memorial to a man who believed his community, his county and his country deserved the best.

"There are many unanswered questions about the murder of Eddie Fullerton. Most relevant to the Morris Tribunal is the conduct of the Garda investigation - to the extent that there was a Garda investigation at all. Eddie's family point out that on the one hand a comprehensive forensic examination of the scene of the murder was not carried out. On the other hand the gardaí took away notebooks, cassettes and other material from Eddie's home and car immediately after his death in a manner indicating an investigation of the victim, not of his killers. The distress of the bereaved Fullerton family was deepened when they discovered this, since the gardaí initially denied that the material in question had been removed. Two official garda bags containing some of Eddie's belongings were eventually returned to the family by gardaí. But to this day the family maintains that all of the material has not been returned. Nor have they been kept informed of the progress of the investigation.

"It is of grave concern that at least one garda now under scrutiny and facing very serious allegations before the Morris Tribunal was himself centrally involved in the investigation of the murder of Eddie Fullerton. This is even more alarming when we place it in a wider context. There are strong indications that, like virtually all attacks claimed or carried out by loyalist paramilitaries in this jurisdiction, the murder of Eddie Fullerton could not have been carried out without collusion from British forces. The assassins entered and left the Fullerton home in the early hours of the morning with ease. They were obviously thoroughly familiar with the area and made their getaway without hitch. They certainly had detailed local knowledge. Did they have local assistance?

"The Fullerton family deserves the truth. They deserve justice and I urge support for our amendment to extend the terms of reference of the Morris Tribunal to address their case."
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