24 May 2007 Edition
Collusion : Fullertons call for inquiry into garda investigation
Did Garda collude in the murder of Eddie Fullerton?
BY LAURA FRIEL
The family of murdered Donegal Sinn Féin County Councillor Eddie Fullerton has called for Taoiseach Bertie Ahern to establish a public inquiry into the Garda investigation into his death. The Sinn Féin councillor was shot dead after a UDA gang smashed their way into his Donegal home in the early hours of May 25, 1991.
“Right from the beginning there was no proper investigation of my father’s murder. At best there was total incompetence and at worse there was a Garda cover up. It’s now time for Bertie Ahern to give us the truth by establishing a proper public inquiry”, said Amanda Fullerton.
The call came after the PSNI Historic Enquiries Team (HET) raised questions about the conduct of the Garda investigation. The family have been told that the RUC had identified the main suspects to the Gardaí within weeks of the killing. But the HET can find no record of the Garda asking the RUC to question the main suspects.
RUC Special Branch collusion with the UDA in the area bordering on Donegal is already a matter of public record. A few years ago UDA gunman Torrens Knight, jailed for 12 UDA murders in East Derry in 1993, was exposed as a Special Branch agent. After his release under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, knight was paid £50,000 a year through a bogus Special Branch account.
According to Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan, Knight was a paid and protected Special Branch agent at the time of the Castlerock killings and the Greysteel massacre. The same murderous gang is also believed to have been responsible for other killings and attempted killings in Kilrea, Rasharkin and Dunloy. Other top unionist paramilitaries, some senior to Knight, were also paid and protected by Special Branch.
Forensic evidence has linked the weaponry used by this UDA gang to a series of killings including the murder of Eddie Fullerton. The Smith & Wesson handgun used in Fullerton’s murder was later used to kill Sinn Féin worker Thomas Donaghy in Kilrea three months later.
Another weapon, a Browning 9mm pistol used in the councillor’s murder was later used to kill Sinn Féin worker Danny Cassidy a year later. The Smith & Wesson was also used in the murder of four Catholic workmen in Castelrock in 1993 and once again six months later in the attack on a Catholic bar in Greysteel in which seven people died and many more were injured.
RUC ran death squad
The evidence indicates that RUC Special Branch ran a UDA death squad that operated within an area that stretched from Derry city, along the north coast through County Derry to North Antrim and along the border of Donegal.
The significance of killing of Eddie Fullerton is that it took place within another jurisdiction, across the border in County Donegal. “My family want to know why the Garda made no attempt to have the main suspects in my father’s murder arrested and questioned,” said Amanda Fullerton.
Other questions have also arisen. An eyewitness saw three men dressed in combat gear getting into an unmarked RUC vehicle near Derry within hours of the Fullerton murder and close to where the UDA gang’s getaway car had been set on fire.
The witness was subsequently “unofficially” interviewed by two RUC officers and a Garda, in a police car, during which the witness’ ability to identify suspects was questioned. The witness evidence was never pursued and despite the fact that the RUC admitted to knowing the identities of those responsible, no one was ever questioned or charged with the Fullerton killing.
The PSNI are now claiming that this is solely because the Garda never asked the RUC to arrest and question the suspects. In itself this is a damning indictment and one for which the Garda must account, but it doesn’t override the fact that members of a gang who murdered a political representative in another jurisdiction were Special Branch agents.