A commemoration to mark the 25th anniversary of the murder of a west Belfast man killed by loyalists took place today [Saturday] in very wet weather.
Paul ‘Topper’ Thompson was gunned down after the loyalist paramilitary UDA cut a hole in a peace line fence close to a British Army base to enter a nationalist area.
In the hours before the 25-year-old was shot a neighbour Brenda Murphy had reported a hole in the ‘peaceline’ fence at Springfield Park to the RUC and British government officials. However, authorities failed to act.
It was later claimed that a number of cameras on the nearby Henry Taggart British army barracks had stopped working. The gun used to kill him is also believed to have been smuggled into the north by British intelligence in the late 1980s.
His case is one of 50 inquest legacy cases due to be held in the coming years. A previous inquest into the murder was never completed.
Today’s commemoration assembled at the junction of Springfield Park and Springfield Road before walking to the scene of the shooting.
Speakers included Mr Thompson, Brenda Murphy, and the family’s lawyer Gemma McKeown from the Committee on the Administration of Justice.
His brother Eugene said his brother is fondly remembered in the area where he lived.
“He was always out and about doing something, a well-known character,” he said. To be only 25 when he died the way people talk about him still.”
He told of his family’s frustration at the continuing delays in holding an inquest, and called for “full disclosure”.
“They just don’t care about you,” he said. “They are just dragging their heels hoping this will go away, but it won’t.”
Mr Thompson’s family believe there was collusion in the case and raised concern about the RUC’s failure to respond to earlier warnings.
“Yes, without a doubt, everybody believes there was collusion,” he said. “To be honest if there had been one Jeep on that street this would not have happened.”
Mr Thompson said that his mother Margaret died at the age of 61 without seeing justice.
“Basically it killed my mother, until her dying day she fought this,” he said. “For me I feel we are not getting anywhere but I don’t want to feel like that. I want to push it and we are close now.”
After his murder a community inquiry was held, which included a judge from the United States and human rights lawyer Gareth Peirce.
Mark Thompson from Relatives for Justice said the “impact of Paul’s murder took a terrible toll”.
“There had been a number of attacks in the area,” he said.
“The cameras were not working, the fence was removed, people came in to carry out the attack with relative ease – around the barracks they could have been mistaken for the IRA.
“It has all the hallmarks of collusion and the NIO need to answer questions as well as the RUC.”