Issue 1 - 2023 front

31 July 1997 Edition

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UVF link to brutal murder

The sectarian killing of 16-year-old James Morgan was one of the most brutal to have taken place in nearly 30 years of conflict. The teenager was found on 27 July, three days after he went missing from his home in Castlewellan, County Down. His body was dumped in a water-filled hole at Clough. He was mutilated beyond recognition.

There is widespread anger in South Down at the way in which the sectarian nature of the killing was initially masked by the RUC. Nationalists in the area are adamant that the motive for the murder was pure sectarianism. James Morgan was killed because he was a Catholic. Yet the RUC at first said they believed the killing was not sectarian. On Monday they modified this by saying that they were investigating a number of motives including the ``theory'' that the killing was sectarian.

Local sources in South Down who have spoken to An Phoblacht have linked the killing to people with UVF connections.

Another cause for anger among nationalists has been the relatively low-key media and political reaction to the killing. Those who, if there is the slightest suspicion that republicans might be involved in a violent incident, immediately call for the exclusion of Sinn Féin from talks, and the reinforcement of the decommissioning demand, were largely silent after the killing of James Morgan. The continuing sectarian killings of Catholics have not dented the policy of ``no claim, no blame'' in relation to loyalist groups.

As in the case of Bernadette Martin of Lurgan, killed by loyalists earlier this month because she was a Catholic in a relationship with a Protestant, the nationalist community in the Six Counties is being made to feel that their lives are worth less both in human terms and in terms of the political price demanded of those responsible for their deaths.


UVF link to brutal murder of 16-year old

Loyalists with links to an active UVF squad which has been operating in the South Down area for the past number of years are behind the killing of Catholic teenager James Morgan, An Phoblacht has learned. And despite the RUC refusal to describe the killing as sectarian all the evidence points towards a random sectarian attack on a Catholic.

Morgan's body was found mutilated in Clough, County Down last Sunday 27 July three days after the 16 year old schoolboy was abducted coming from the resort of Newcastle on Thursday at around tea-time.

Among the UVF gang are members of well known loyalist families who were said to have been involved in the Loughinisland massacre in 1994 when six Catholics, watching the Irish team playing in a World Cup match, were shot dead by the UVF. Another family member was convicted for the killing of Dundrum businessman Jack Kielty who was shot dead at his workplace in 1988, although this killing was claimed by the UDA.

The gang, which is run by members of the notorious loyalist family, has also been responsible for a number of attempted murders where they attacked nationalists, in the area, in their homes. On one occasion in 1994 the home of a Sinn Fein worker was attacked and up to 40 shots from assault rifles were fired through the windows after the loyalists failed to break into his house.

When James Morgan, the second youngest in a family of seven, didn't return from Newcastle to his Annesborough home on Thursday evening last his parents thought he had gone off with a friend and would return the following day. He never returned.

At some point on Thursday the RUC received two phone calls, one from a farmer near Clough who reported suspicious activity at a sinkhole on his farm and later an anonymous caller reported that someone ``called Morgan was dead''.

But it wasn't until Sunday that the RUC discovered James Morgan's body in the water-filled hole used to bury animal carcasses. His badly mutilated body was so disfigured that James was only identified by his dental records.

Residents of Annesborough, a village which neighbours the bigger nationalist village of Castlewellan, told An Phoblacht that people were shocked by the teenager's murder and drew similarities with the horrific murder of Francis Rice.

Rice, a 17 year old IRA Volunteer was abducted and mutilated by a gang in May 1975 and his body was then dumped at a roadside outside Castlewellan.

Speaking for Sinn Fein, party representatives Mick Murphy and Frank McDowell accused the RUC of ``trying to defuse public concern around the brutal sectarian murder of James Morgan.

``All the evidence points to a sectarian abduction which ended with the brutal murder of this young lad''.

And speaking to An Phoblacht after James Morgan's funeral on Wednesday 30 July, Sinn Fein councillor for the area Frank McDowell, said there is a lot of anger in the area and people can't understand why the RUC are denying there is a sectarian motive behind the killing.

Meanwhile a 26 year old man from Bryansford Road in Newcastle, Norman Coopey, was charged with the teenager's killing at a special sitting of Downpatrick court on Monday. A second man who has been in custody was released as the teenager was being buried. One man who spoke to AP/RN as the news of the release was breaking accused the RUC of ``brushing the killing under the carpet''.


An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1