Members of the PSNI police who shot and killed a motorist in County Down last weekend are still armed and on duty, it has emerged.

The Policing Board is to question the chief constable over the shooting of Steven Colwell in Co Down last weekend.

Steven Colwell, a 23-year was shot dead by a police officer at a checkpoint in Ballynahinch on Sunday April 16.

The Chairman of the Policing Board, Professor Sir Desmond Rea, offered his condolences to the family of the dead man. He said an investigation would be carried out by the Police Ombudsman.

“There has been comment in the media as to whether or not the officer involved in the incident should be suspended. This is a matter for the PSNI to consider in conjunction with the Police Ombudsman as the investigation proceeds.”

Sir Professor Desmond also spoke of what he said was the traumatic effect the incident had on the man’s killers.

“Police officers carry a tremendous burden of responsibility in policing our community as this incident so clearly highlights.”

Mr Colwell was one of six people in the car at the time. It is understood the vehicle was stolen in Ballyhornan, about 15 miles from Ballynahinch, early on Sunday morning.

Although Colwell had been wearing a Celtic jersey and was thought to be republican, it has since emerged that Colwell was a Protestant from the Shankill Road in west Belfast. A relative of former west Belfast unionist paramilitary leader Johnny ‘Mad Dog’ Adair, who knew Mr Colwell, was in the car at the time of the shooting.

Speaking from England, Adair said: “I have been told they had stolen a car and were being chased by police.

“They didn’t know the police had opened up on the car until Steven got out of the car shouting he’d been shot.”

Mr Colwell is the second person to be shot dead in incidents involving the PSNI since the force was established in 2001 from the previous RUC. In April 2003, Neil McConville was shot dead outside Lisburn, County Antrim.

His cousin, Barry McConville, said today the delay in the publication of a Police Ombudsman report on that killing may have cost another life.

The long-delayed Police Ombudsman’s report into the killing is expected to be heavily critical of the PSNI, and will give details of how files on the case were deleted by Special Branch.

“Lessons seem not to have been learnt from the killing of Neil McConville, this much is obvious, for the PSNI still tout their guns like Jessie James, and use them in a similar carefree way,” he said.

“If the Ombudsman’s report had been published and the PSNI tactics were open to public scrutiny, perhaps the PSNI involved in the latest shoot-to-kill incident would have been a little less gung ho in their stopping of the car, and another young person may still be alive today.”

Urgent Appeal

Despite increasing support for Irish freedom and unity, we need your help to overcome British and unionist intransigence. We can end the denial of our rights in relation to Brexit, the Irish language, a border poll and legacy issues, with your support.

Please support IRN now to help us continue reporting and campaigning for our national rights. Even one pound a month can make a big difference for us.

Your contribution can be made with a credit or debit card by clicking below. A continuing monthly donation of £2 or more will give you full access to this site. Thank you. Go raibh míle maith agat.

© 2006 Irish Republican News