Unanswered questions, 25 years on


Collusion continues to be suspected in the murders of Gerard and Rory Cairns, who were killed by a UVF murder squad 25 years ago this week.

During the conflict several sectarian attacks were carried out against the Catholic community in the wider Bleary area. The remains of nine victims, including the Cairns’ brothers, are interred in the small graveyard adjacent to nearby St Colman’s Church in Clare.

The mother of Gerard and Rory says she can never forgive their loyalist killers. Sheila Cairns said she wants to know why her sons were targeted.

“All I would like to know is why,” she said. “Why were they singled out and why were they murdered?”

She said that despite the passing of time she will not forgive the killers. “I don’t care what happens, my sons (are) in the Clare graveyard at the minute, no, I couldn’t forgive anybody.”

Her son Liam agreed. “I certainly can’t forgive at any cost, it’s something I could never do,” he said. Liam says he wants to know who had knowledge of the murders. “I am more interested in how far it goes up the ladder, where it stops,” he said.

His sister Paula, who abandoned her studies in England after her brothers were killed, believes they were targeted because of their Irish culture.

She believes the killers were helped by loyalists in the wider area. “I would like to know who actually set us up,” she said. “Who would have singled you out otherwise, there had to be somebody local.”

Notorious serial killer Billy Wright was one of nine loyalists questioned about the murders. Fellow UVF men Mark Fulton and Robin Jackson were also arrested and questioned but later released without charge.

Paula has no doubt there was collision in the murders. “I would like for it to be admitted that there was collusion, because it was evident and that sticks in me. It sticks in all of us.”

Forensic evidence and interviews with the suspected killers were all destroyed after the RUC claimed they were “contaminated with asbestos” while in storage.

The boys’ father Eamon has little faith in the British justice system to provide the truth about the murder of his sons.

“If they deny that truth, being honest and open about it, to me that’s fair enough but leave my country and, above all else, take your judicial system with you,” he said.

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