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7 May 1998 Edition

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Dublin man killed in Garda shoot-to-kill operation

BY SEAN BRADY

Sinn Féin has backed the call for an independent public inquiry into the death of Dublin man Ronan McLaughlin who was shot dead by gardaí at Ashford, County Wicklow on Friday, 1 May.

The Garda version of events at Ashford has altered several times since the incident. Gardai initially claimed that one of a group of six men, whom they had under surveillance and who they allege were attempting to rob a Securicor cash van, opened fire on them first. However they later denied this and admitted that it was the gardaí who began the shooting.

At least two gardaí opened fire in what was clearly a well planned ambush by the Emergency Response Unit (ERU) on the main Dublin to Wexford Road. The other men did not return fire.

Ronan McLaughlin's family have demanded a public inquiry into the circumstances of the shooting. In a statement the family asked why, if the six men were under surveillance, no attempt was made to arrest them on their way to the scene or at the scene before the shooting.

In a statement on the fatal events at Ashford Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams expressed his sympathy to the family of Ronan McLaughlin and supported their call for a full and independent inquiry into the killing. He said: ``I am deeply saddened at the death of Ronan McLaughlin who was killed last Friday. My heartfelt sympathy is with his family. I support their call for an investigation of his killing.

``I also call upon those responsible for all the circumstances leading up to the killing of Ronan McLaughlin to reflect on their actions. At this critical moment in Irish history they should act in the greater interests of all the people of Ireland and support the quest for justice and freedom.''

In a statement released in Dublin the IRA refuted claims in the media that Ronan McLaughlin was one of their volunteers.

The full text of the IRA statement reads, ``no volunteers in Oglaigh na hEireann were involved in the incident in Ashford, County Wicklow on Friday 1 May in which one man was shot and killed.

``No one outside our organisation is authorised to use the name of Oglaigh na hEireann in any attempt to confer legitimacy on their actions. Signed P O'Neill Irish Republican Publicity Bureau, Dublin.''

The death of Ronan McLaughlin is the latest in a series of controversial shootings by the gardaí over the years several of which have resulted in deaths. In one of the most recent incidents John Morrison, a 26-year-old member of the INLA, was shot and killed by gardaí in Dublin in June 1997. The gardaí had not been fired upon during that incident and it was later revealed that Morrison was in possession of an unloaded handgun.
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