New inquest ordered into UDA murder
New inquest ordered into UDA murder

The Six-County Attorney General has ordered a new inquest into the murder of a Catholic man shot dead by a loyalist death squad in west Belfast in 1988.

Father-of-three Gerard Slane was gunned down at his home by a UDA gang acting on intelligence provided by double-agent Brian Nelson. It was later revealed that the British Army’s murderous ‘Force Research Unit’ (FRU), for whom Nelson worked, were well aware of the plan to kill the 27-year-old.

The brigadier who led FRU at that time, Gordon Kerr, told the Stevens Inquiry into British collusion denied the FRU ordered the attack.

The family’ solicitor, Kevin Winters, welcomed the new inquest and said there were “many disturbing features and unanswered questions” in the case which would have to be addressed.

“Lord Stevens conducted an extensive investigation into a series of murders of which Gerard’s was one. His report has never been published,” he said.

In 1992, Brian Nelson pleaded guilty to five charges of conspiracy to murder. Mr Slane’s killing was one of them. His guilty plea avoided an investigation into the extent of British involvement in the UDA’s murder campaign.

Mr Winters said that key factors in the killing of Gerard Slane had not been dealt with during Nelson’s trial and that further evidence had emerged.

“There have been significant changes to inquests since then and we would expect that Lord Stevens, his report, John Ware and indeed Brigadier Colonel Gordon Kerr, the then head of FRU, would be available to the court as part of the coroner’s examination of Gerard’s killing,” Mr Winters said.

Mr Slane was gunned down in his Waterville Street home off the Falls Road at around 4.15am on September 23 1988. A British Army patrol had passed outside the home five minutes before the attack.

Mr Slane’s widow, Teresa, said many questions remained unanswered.

“Our pain and grief is no different to that of many other families also bereaved in the conflict. But that Gerard’s murder has been clouded in secrecy and cover-up only adds to these emotions,” she said.

“It is important that after all this time there may now be a proper opportunity to fully examine Gerard’s murder and the roles played by all of those involved.

“Public scrutiny is vitally important and therefore we welcome the fact that a new inquest will now take place.”

Relatives for Justice director, Mark Thompson, said the murder had been “a horrific experience” for Mr Slane’s wife and their three children who have had to “live with the legacy of that terrible atrocity”.

“Teresa and Gerard’s children, now adults, want the truth. Hopefully this inquest can establish the facts, provide the truth and allow the family to finally close this awful chapter,” he said.

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has called for the British government to co-operate with the new inquest.

“The formal and informal use of collusion involving British state forces and unionist paramilitaries was wide-spread,” he said.

“The Brian Nelson case provides one detailed example of how it worked at an administrative and institutional level.”

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