The families of two republicans brutally murdered five years ago in Belfast say they are alarmed at reports surfacing this week that indicate British intelligence may be protecting the killers.
Eddie Burns was found shot dead at the Bog Meadows on March 12, 2007. A short time later Joe Jones was found in an alleyway in North Belfast - he had suffered horrific head injuries.
The deaths of both men, who had been Volunteers within the Continuity IRA, was blamed on a feud within that organisation.
In 2009, Gerard Mackin from West Belfast was jailed for life for the murder of Mr Burns. But the Dublin Court of Criminal Appeal ordered a retrial, which collapsed after a witness refused to testify.
Both victims had families and children. The families are now asking who was really behind their deaths.
This week reports surfaced alleging that a key suspect in the deaths is currently on a crime spree, carrying out robberies and tiger kidnappings in Belfast but remains “untouchable” because he is in fact a British agent.
The Jones and Burns families recently joined Relatives for Justice (RFJ) and Community Restorative Justice (CRJ) at a press conference in Conway Mill, where they jointly asked for justice for the killings.
“If this man or others is being protected by the British Intelligence services it comes as no shock to us,” Joe’s brother Peter Jones said.
“We have been trying for more than five years to get to the truth about the vicious murders of Joe and his friend Eddie Burns. It seems to us that the killers of Eddie and Joe are being given a free hand to do what they like.”
Eddie Burns’ mother, Kathleen Burns, said the families plan to speak to both the police and the Public Prosecution Service about the most recent allegations.
“We will be raising this issue at a meeting with the PPS and senior members of the PSNI,” she said.
“If the intelligence services are protecting any of the people involved in the brutal murders of Eddie and Joe, then they have lost the plot.
“It doesn’t stack up for us or other ordinary people if thugs are immune from prosecution from crimes as serious as murder, tiger kidnappings, robbery and extortion.”