Donegal family press collusion concerns
Donegal family press collusion concerns

The 26-County Minister for Justice has failed to defuse a new controversy over the murder of County Donegal Sinn Fein councillor Eddie Fullerton in 1991.

Mr Fullerton was shot dead at his Buncrana home in the early hours of May 25, 1991 by a Derry-based unionist paramilitary death squad. There remains a widespread belief that it was carried out with the active collusion of British forces.

Mr Fullerton’s photograph was among crown forces photomontages seized from unionist paramilitaries six months after the killing, which are believed to have been provided by the British Army’s covert Force Research Unit.

Mr Fullerton, who was shot just one month before local elections that year, was targeted as part of a wider campaign against Sinn Fein members, eight of whom were assassinated between 1989 and 1992.

There are also serious questions about irregularities in the Garda investigation. A number of the Donegal gardai who are the subject of the Morris tribunal of inquiry were involved in the Fullerton investigation, including disgraced Garda Noel McMahon.

Despite this, the Fullerton family’s requests to have the conduct of the gardai in the case investigated by the Morris tribunal were refused.

A reinvestigation into the case finally commenced 14 years later, following a campaign by the Fullerton family who presented a dossier to the Minister demanding his assistance in the search for the truth.

The Minister subsequently directed not a full public inquiry, but an internal re-examination of the case by the Garda Commissioner. This has resulted in an interim report to the Minister, which has never been published.

Mr McDowell this week issued two statements responding to questions by Sinn Fein’s Aengus O Snodaigh over the affair, indicating that a reinvestigation of the case is drawing to a close.

“The only outstanding matters relate to the awaited results of a mutual assistance request to the British authorities and certain police-to-police inquiries with the Police Service of Northern Ireland,” Mr McDowell said.

Last night Eddie Fullerton’s son Albert said he found it “astonishing that the minister has implied there was a lack of response from the PSNI, given that we’ve recently been told co-operation is seamless”.

“This is a very, very serious issue. A democratic politician was slaughtered in front of his wife and he had this word democracy rammed down his throat all his life and then his murder was followed up with nothing but cover-up and collusion for the last 14 years,” Mr Fullerton said.

“It totally outweighs the Northern Bank robbery which the two governments have spent so much time on, because it appears that there continues to be a huge reluctance both on a political level and a policing level to secure the truth.

“One example of this is that in 1993 the Castlerock incident happened [when] four workmen were killed by loyalists. It emerged that the same gun was used in my father’s murder and it is significant that post-Good Friday Agreement, with the early release system, the Irish government never filed for or applied for extradition proceedings to be initiated,” Mr Fullerton said.

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© 2004 Irish Republican News