The son of an IRA Volunteer shot dead in the first of a series of planned British ambushes forty years ago has said he will never give up his fight for the truth.
Unarmed Republicans Gervais McKerr, Eugene Toman and Sean Burns were shot dead near Lurgan in County Armagh on November 11, 1982. Their killings were the first of six carried out by the same Crown Force unit in north Armagh over a five week period.
A total of 109 bullets were fired into the car they travelled in which was driven by Mr McKerr. In the hours before they were killed, the men had been under surveillance while drinking tea in Mr McKerr’s home. No attempt was made to arrest them.
At the time the RUC claimed the trio had driven through a check-point and were pursued before being fired on. This was soon exposed as a cover story for a well-planned ‘shoot-to-kill’ massacre.
Three RUC men charged with murder were later acquitted. Several attempts to hold an inquest and hearings into the deaths have been abandoned over the past four decades. The latest inquest opened in 2007, but has yet to hear any evidence.
The shootings were also investigated by the deputy chief constable of Greater Manchester Police, John Stalker. His enquiries were blocked and he was eventually removed from the investigation. His findings have never been made public.
Related killings examined by Stalker included that of Catholic teenager Michael Tighe, and INLA members Seamus Grew and Roddy Carroll, who were also shot dead while unarmed.
Mr McKerr’s son Jonathan spoke out about the case this week on social media. He said the victims could have been arrested at any time.
“Instead orders came down for the E4A, a specialist SAS-trained unit of the RUC, to move into position for the ambush,” he wrote.
“This was a planned operation...it was pre-meditated. They weren’t just hanging around or on routine patrol, these policemen were an SAS trained unit under orders to kill.
“Permission was given by the British cabinet and very possibly Thatcher herself. The permission to shoot to kill.”
He condemned the British government legacy bill, which includes an amnesty for British war crimes carried out during the conflict.
“Our case goes right to the top of the British government and they still deny us and families like ours, a proper investigation/inquest and access to the truth.
“Because the truth will show that this was cold blooded, pre-meditated murder. They’re still trying to hide the truth of what happened and with this Bill of Shame they are trying to wash their hands forever.
“We won’t stand for it. My father, Eugene and Seán deserve to have it put on record that they were murdered by the State.”
He said that twenty years ago the British government were told by the European Court of Human Rights that they were acting unlawfully by denying an investigation.
“Twenty years after that decision and forty years after the murders, they still hold up the inquest any way they can, and now with the Legacy Bill/Bill of Shame they plan to never allow us to get closure for our own peace or allow us access to justice.
“Justice delayed is justice denied but we as families will never give up the fight for our loved ones. They deserve the truth and so do all the legacy families.”