Irish Republican News · October 14, 2010
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Campaign seeks answers on west Belfast killing

A West Belfast mother has broken a ten-year silence to plead with the Provisional IRA to admit that it killed her son.

Joe O’Connor was shot while sitting in a car outside his mother’s house on the Ballymurphy estate on October 13 2000.

The 26-year-old, who was a member of the Real IRA, was said to have been killed as part of a dispute with the Provisional IRA.

No group ever admitted responsibility for the killing but the dead man’s family blamed the Provisionals.

In a statement days after his murder, the Provisional IRA denied involvement.

“Malicious accusations suggesting IRA involvement are designed to heighten tensions and promote the agenda of those opposed to current IRA strategy,” the group said in a statement.

At the inquest, the PSNI’s handling of the investigation was criticised by Coroner John Leckey after it emerged that names of alleged suspects had been given to the PSNI, but that no-one had been questioned over the killing.

Now Margaret O’Connor has spoken out publicly for the first time since her eldest son’s death.

“I just want the PIRA to admit they killed my son,” she said.

“I need them to admit that they did it so that my family can have some kind of closure.

“There is all this talk about truth commissions and people owning up for what they did but no-one has ever admitted killing my son.”

Ms O’Connor said the past 10 years had been a “living nightmare”.

“Joe was the eldest of eight and had to become a father figure for his brothers and sisters when my husband died,” she said.

“He had three children and another on the way when he was murdered.

“His youngest son has grown up for the last ten years not knowing his own father.

“His children deserve to know who killed their daddy and why.”

The family have been supported by the campaign group Relatives for Justice.

“The O’Connor family, like every other family affected by the conflict, deserve answers to the questions concerning the killing of Joe,” its spokesman Mark Thompson said.

“They too have the same need for truth.”

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