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17 July 1997 Edition

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Loyalists kill Catholic woman

SF raises links with McGoldrick killing

Following the sectarian murder of a young Catholic woman in a house in Aghalee, a Sinn Féin councillor has asked whether forensic or ballistic evidence points to a link with the murder of Michael McGoldrick, a Catholic taxi-driver who was killed not far from Aghalee during the Drumcree stand off last year.

``The RUC should release forensic or ballistic evidence which might link the two murders,'' said Craigavon Sinn Féin Councillor John O'Dowd.

18 year old Bernadette Martin was shot four times in the head in the early hours of Tuesday morning 15 July and died hours later in the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast. The killing was almost certainly carried out by the Loyalist Volunteer Force.

The young woman from Pinebank in Craigavon was staying overnight in her boyfriend's house in the small County Antrim village bordering County Armagh when a lone gunman entered through the unlocked back door at about 4am and shot her in the head as she lay in bed.

Friends of the dead woman have reported that in recent weeks she was subjected to verbal sectarian abuse and had warned her against travelling to Aghalee.

Bernadette Martin was the eldest girl in a family of six and had been going out with her boyfriend, whom she met in work, for about a year. She had left her Craigavon home on Monday evening for a night out with her boyfriend and decided to stay over in his family home on Soldierstown Road in Aghalee. After the shooting she was rushed to Craigavon Area hospital before being brought to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast where she eventually died.

In a follow up operation the RUC arrested a man, from a well known loyalist family, in the Coronation Gardens area about 500 yards from the scene of the shooting.

So far no group has admitted responsibility for the attack, but An Phoblacht has been told that Aghalee and its hinterland is a loyalist area with strong UVF links. With the split in the UVF over the activities of its Mid-Ulster Brigade, which broke away to form the LVF, the allegiance of those UVF personnel in the Aghalee area also changed.

The LVF has been active in recent times and have carried out numerous attacks on Catholics. The killing of South Derry GAA stalwart Sean Brown was the last killing carried out by the group until Tuesday's shooting.

The body of Michael McGoldrick, who was shot dead by the Mid-Ulster Brigade of the UVF during last year's Drumcree crisis was found in the Aghalee area. McGoldrick's killing was one of the factors which led to the UVF split and expulsion of the notorious UVF killer King Rat.

Also in the week before this year's Orange march at Drumcree a van was found burned out near the village. Republicans from North Armagh told An Phoblacht that they suspected the LVF were involved in the incident and that they had to abort an attack an a nationalist target.

Councillor O'Dowd called for ``calm and vigilance'' following the killing. He also attacked the British government's double standards. ``Last week loyalist gunmen paraded on the streets of Belfast; one senior UDA/UFF figure was killed in an explosion; threats and intimidation from loyalists are widespread, and yet the British government has no difficulty meeting their political representatives.
``Sinn Féin has no wish to see the loyalist parties excluded from talks but the double standards so apparent in British policy subvert efforts to rebuild the peace process.''

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1

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