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30 April 1998 Edition

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Nationalists murdered

By Laura Friel

A Catholic student was shot dead in a sectarian attack in the early hours of last Saturday morning, just hours after a loyalist rally in Antrim town. The killing came within days of the loyalist murder of a Catholic council worker in Portadown.

On the Garvaghy Road, mourners attending the funeral of Adrian Lamph walked in silence beneath the skyline silhouette of Drumcree church. For a community living in the shadow of loyalist intimidation, be it in the form of Orange marchers or the gunmen of the LVF, the image of Drumcree's grey spire against a darkening horizon added to the sense of foreboding. Sashes or masks, to the beleaguered nationalist communities of the North, it appears as two sides of the same coin.

Adrian Lamph, a 29-year-old father of two was singled out by a lone gunman as he worked in a council depot in the loyalist heartland of Portadown. Garvaghy Road residents had suspected loyalists would, sooner or later, strike at the heart of their community, but anticipation did not ameliorate their shock and grief. As several thousand mourners gathered, local anger at the LVF killing was compounded by the British government's decision to ditch a recommendation by the Parades Commission to reroute July's Orange parade away from Garvaghy Road. ``There are some people who feel threatened by the prospects of peace,'' Fr Sean Larkin told mourners. Adrian's blood trailed along a hospital corridor, said the priest, ``cries out in protest at the sectarian hatred which drives some to murder.'' It was a cry unheeded. Within hours of Adrian Lamph's burial another young Catholic was murdered by loyalist gunmen. 22-year-old Ciaran Heffron was shot dead in the Antrim village of Crumlin as he walked home in the early hours of Saturday morning. His body was discovered by a taxi driver in the grounds of an Ulsterbus depot a short distance from the Heffron family's home. Ciaran had been shot several times in the head. A paramedic, who lives locally and was called to the scene, attempted to resuscitate the victim but there was no response. The university student had left the village pub, The Fiddler's Inn, with friends before taking a short cut home alone. The young man's father Hugh Heffron, fearful when his son had failed to return home was out searching for Ciaran when the body was discovered.

Members of Crumlin's Concerned Community, a group opposing Orange parades through the village recently received sympathy cards threatening their lives. Crumlin is less than five miles from Aghalee village where Bernadette Martin was murdered at her Protestant boyfriend's home by the LVF. Last week several shots were fired into homes of Catholic residents living in Antrim's Ballycraigy estate. Just hours before the killing of Ciaran Heffron at a loyalist rally in Antrim town, the DUP had played out its role as political rabble rousers for the LVF. Sporting t-shirts exulting the LVF and waving Union Jack flags, members of the crowd had cheered DUP Councillor Sammy Wilson. Known LVF gunmen, believed to have been involved in the Crumlin killing, were identified at the rally. It was the same old story, the sectarian rallying cry of `no surrender' as a prelude to more loyalist bloodletting.

Meanwhile the history of the weapon used by loyalists in the Poyntzpass murders has been released. The Browning 9mm automatic pistol was discovered shortly after the killing of Philip Allen and Damian Trainor. Forensic examination has shown the weapon had previously been used in a Belfast killing, kneecappings in Dromore, County Down and Portadown, County Armagh and in drive-by shootings in Lurgan's Mourneview estate. More curiously, it had also been used in a shooting incident involving the LVF's Mark `Swinger' Fulton. At the time Fulton had claimed the UVF were behind an attempt on his life when a gunman opened fire as Fulton walked into a flat at Corcrain, Portadown. David Keys, a member of the LVF charged with the Poyntzpass murders and later exposed as an RUC agent, was tortured, beaten to death and left hanging in the LVF wing of Long Kesh.
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