British Army link to Larne killings revealed
British Army link to Larne killings revealed


It has taken the British authorities 35 years to tell the family of a Catholic man that his killer was a former British soldier.

Relatives of Larne man Rodney McCormick have now written to Crown prosecutors and the PSNI to find out why this information was kept hidden for so long.

The father-of-one was shot dead outside his Larne home in August 1980 by a three-man UDA gang with alleged links to the elite British Army killer unit, the SAS.

Last month the British military finally admitted that one of the men, William McClelland, was a former member of the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR). He, along with brothers Robert and Eric McConnell, were later convicted for their part in the murder of Mr McCormick, as well as the murder of a Protestant nationalist politician John Turnly, also in 1980.

The PSNI had previously said that it held no information “to indicate that Mr McClelland was a member of the armed forces, UDR or the Prison Service”. The UDR link was also not mentioned during the trial.

The killers were arrested an hour after they murdered Mr McCormick, but were later released. Under questioning McClelland had claimed he was killed because “he had done time and become a Provie”.

However, the McCormick family have said he was not connected to any armed group, a claim backed up a report produced by the Historical Enquiries Team.


From a Protestant background, John Turnly was a former British army officer and member of the SDLP before helping to found the Irish Independence Party.

Elected to Larne council, he was shot as he arrived for a meeting in Carnlough, County Antrim, in July 1980.

He was also active in the National H-Block Committee. Other members of the committee killed around this time included IRSP members Noel Lyttle, Ronnie Bunting and Miriam Daly. Former Mid-Ulster MP Bernadette McAliskey was also seriously injured in a loyalist gun attack.

Some republicans believe the SAS was directly involved in the murder of Lyttle and Bunting, who were also INLA members. Despite the murders taking place 35 years ago, there is astonishment at the news that one of those involved was a former British soldier.

“At no stage following the arrest, prosecution or conviction of these three individuals was the family told that one of the suspects had been a member of the UDR from mid-1975 until late 1978,” said Mr McCormick’s family.

“This was withheld from us, along with the Turnly family, the press and the public. Was the judge even aware?”

Paul O’Connor from the Pat Finucane Centre said that when he wrote to the PSNI last year he was told “there is no information held by Legacy Investigation Branch to indicate that Mr McClelland was a member of the Armed forces, UDR or the Prison Service”.

He asked: “Was the Prosecution Service aware of this and if so why was it withheld from the court?”

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.

© 2016 Irish Republican News