Unexplained killing of two Catholic men to be reviewed

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The murder of two Catholic men in County Armagh once wrongly blamed on the IRA is being reviewed as part of an investigation into the series of killings by the pro-British death squad known as the Glenanne Gang.

Jimmy Marks and Joseph Toland died as a result of a gun attack on a minibus they were travelling in near the village of Gilford in County Down in July 1975.

Joseph Toland, aged 78, was travelling from a bingo session in Banbridge back to County Armagh when he was shot. A father-of-two, 42-year-old Mr Marks was the driver of the minibus, and died from his injuries several months later in January 1976. Three female passengers were also seriously injured.

Within hours of the attack the RUC police were falsely claiming that the IRA had carried out the ambush in revenge for the loyalist Miami Showband massacre the day before. While few believed it, the attackers have never been identified with certainty.

In 2017, former RUC man and Glenanne gang member John Weir admitted that the attack had been carried out by the gang under the direction of British agent and UVF commander Robin ‘The Jackal’ Jackson.

Now the ambush is to be reviewed by the Kenova team, which is headed by former English police chief Jon Boutcher and is investigating the Glenanne Gang. The murder squad which targeted Catholics is believed to have carried out more than 100 killings.

Relatives of Mr Marks recently met with Mr Boutcher to discuss the case. His niece Martina Marks, who has taken on the case since the death of her father Michael last April, said she is hopeful of finding establishing the truth.

She described her uncle, who worked as an unofficial taxi driver, as a “quiet man”.

“It went very well and I was very, very impressed with the set up and the amount of people backing him,” she said.

“I am optimistic, he won’t take no for an answer as far as I can see if he goes looking for papers or records.

“I felt confident after the meeting.”

Ms Marks explained that she has been carrying out her own research into her uncle’s murder and now believes loyalists have been responsible for the murder.

Lawyer Kevin Winters described the case as “unusual” adding that “the intervention of Jon Boutcher and his Kenova Team goes a long way to exposing the fallacy that the IRA were involved in this attack at long last this family can confidently look forward to a meaningful investigation.”

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