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15 February 2007 Edition

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Remembering the Past

Sinn Féin Councillor John Davey was assassinated by a UDA gang

Sinn Féin Councillor John Davey was assassinated by a UDA gang

The murder of Councillor John Davey

By Aran Foley

On 14 February 1989, prominent Sinn Féin Councillor John Davey was assassinated by a UDA gang. He had been elected to Magherafelt District Council and had been a tireless worker on behalf of the community. He had been an ardent campaigner on justice and equality issues, particularly discrimination in the workplace. A strong and vigilant character, he became a figure of hatred for unionism and the British state.

John’s assassination, while returning from a council meeting, came at the height of the British Government’s policy of collusion. The respected human rights lawyer, Pat Finucane, had been shot dead at his home two days previously.

John Davey had been the subject of constant harassment and death threats by crown forces. On the night he was killed, the British Army and RUC were conspicuous by their absence, heightening his family’s and the wider community’s suspicions of collusion. Described as the heart of the South Derry’s republican community, John Davey was a prime target for the British securocrats and their surrogate loyalist gangs.

The family are adamant that his security file had been handed over to unionist paramilitaries. Significantly, the area in which he was murdered fell under the remit of the notorious UDA gang headed up by Torrens Knight. Knight was later to be convicted of a number of vicious killings, most notoriously the Greysteel ‘Trick or Treat’ massacre at The Rising Sun bar on 30 October 1993. After the UDA killer’s release under the Good Friday Agreement, significant amounts of money were deposited in his bank account.

Eighteen years ago this week, John Davey, ‘the heart of South Derry’, was brutally taken from the community and people he so deeply loved. His death was part of a failed policy of collusion which stretched right into the heart of the British establishment. He was killed for having the temerity and bravery to oppose the British occupation of the Six Counties and its accompanying brutality and oppression.

It is a testimony to the abject failure of that policy which saw his murder that John Davey is remembered with pride by the people of South Derry and the Republican Movement throughout Ireland.

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