Brown family show tenacity in campaign for justice


By Connla Young (for Irish News)

In the 25 years since the brutal murder of Sean Brown his family have been repeatedly frustrated in their campaign for justice.

They have faced delay and obstruction in their search for answers for a quarter of a century.

Their experience is shared by many whose loved ones died at the hands of loyalists and the state - in some cases both.

And like others, with dignified resolve, they have never given up.

Many will view their patient determination and tenacity in their search for justice as an example.

By coincidence on the 25th anniversary of Mr Brown’s murder, the police finally, and only when faced with imminent civil court action, acknowledged their failings.

In an agreed statement read out in the High Court yesterday the PSNI said it “wishes to apologise to Mrs Brown and her family for inadequacies in the RUC original investigation and continues to engage fully in the ongoing Inquest proceedings”.

A undisclosed settlement has also been reached - not that money matters to the Brown or any other family in their circumstances.

The family suffered more tragedy last year when Mr Brown’s son Damian, who attended around 30 inquest preliminary hearings, died after a short illness.

The campaign for justice has now been picked up other family members.

While Sean Brown is one of hundreds of innocent Catholics murdered during the Troubles - for many the circumstances of his death stand out.

Abducted from the gates of a GAA club as he locked up, beaten and shot dead - his killing stunned the whole of Ireland.

It came just a year before the signing of the Good Friday Agreement and three years after the IRAs first ceasefire.

Significantly, it also came less than two weeks after a major breakthrough moment for Sinn Féin when Martin McGuinness won a seat in Mid Ulster in that year’s Westminster elections.

Some take the view the choice of target and location went beyond the usual senseless sectarianism engaged in by loyalist paramilitaries.

Some believe the killing was designed to send a pointed message to an entire nationalist community and the choice of GAA target in the heart of Mid Ulster was very deliberate.

While the Brown family will take some comfort from yesterday’s development many questions about the murder of Sean Brown remain unanswered.

While the PSNI apology offers some recognition of the state’s failings key questions remain unanswered.

Mr Brown’s inquest is one of several legacy cases due to be heard in the coming years.

Perhaps through that process, if the British government does not succeed in closing legacy inquests down, will shed more light on the circumstances of a murder that continues to demand answers.

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