18 April 2002 Edition

Resize: A A A Print

Omagh Council backs call for inquiry into 1974 Patsy Kelly killing

A motion proposed by Sinn Féin Councillor Pat Watters calling for the establishment of a public judicial inquiry into the assassination of nationalist Councillor Patsy Kelly in 1974 received the unanimous backing of nationalist councillors on Omagh District Council and was duly carried last week. The council also backed a further motion by Watters that a plaque in memory of Councillor Kelly should be erected within the council building.

Unionist members of Council voted against the motions. DUP Assemblyman and Councillor Oliver Gibson, who was the focus of a TV documentary on the case, was not present on the night.

"Patsy Kelly was a loving husband, father, son and brother," said Watters afterwards. "He was a popular, hardworking councillor motivated by a love of his community and a thirst for social and political justice. He was 34 years old at the time of his murder in 1974, a murder that shocked the entire community and especially devastated the people he so diligently represented in the Trillick and Dromore areas of this district.

"At the time, the RUC told Patsy's wife Teresa that they had enough evidence at the scene to convict the murderer and all they needed was a body. Hundreds of local people embarked on a massive search up until the time his body was discovered by accident by a fisherman in Loch Eyes in Co Fermanagh.

"We now know that Patsy was abducted, shot and his body weighted down in the lake - an attempt to make sure that it would never again be discovered.

"Despite the fact that the body was found after three weeks the RUC dropped the murder investigation, if there ever was one, like a hot potato. Perhaps the RUC also believed that the body would never be found? Attempts by Patsy's family and legal representatives to get at the truth of what happened have been frustrated at every turn.

"The fact that the original investigation papers of 1974 and papers relating to the re-investigation in 1993 of alleged crown force involvement in the murder were found 12 hours before a recent TV documentary on the murder went on air has raised a number of fundamental questions. Why was the murder of Patsy Kelly not properly investigated? Who conspired to make sure the murder was not investigated?

"The RUC have said that a senior detective will deal with the re-investigation but the Kelly family and their legal representatives have no faith in any officer, no matter how high in rank. Letters regarding the file from the family's legal representative over the past three years have been treated with absolute derision by the RUC. Endless correspondence has been made with RUC inspector Green but he made a scant effort to locate the file.

"There is no doubt that the crown forces were involved in the murder of Patsy Kelly. Crown force members were "questioned" regarding the murder and an ex-UDR man, now deceased, has said that members of this force were involved.

"It is a sad reflection of society and unforgivable that the Kelly family cannot receive justice and there is absolutely no faith in any re-investigation by the RUC. What is now needed is a full public judicial inquiry with the power to bring to task those involved in the murder, no matter how senior or prominent a position they may now hold. Furthermore, in light of the circumstances, it is imperative that the Kelly family's legal representative has full disclosure of the murder file, as it is the only way the family will know if the file really exists or how much relevant information it contains.

"The circumstance surrounding Patsy's murder and the subsequent cover up is still an open sore within this community. The family and the wider community in this district demand to know who was involved. Patsy Kelly was a member of this council at the time of his murder and this council also has a right to know."

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1