'collusion'  | 

Family of Sinn Fein councillor murdered in Donegal ask Irish government to press UK for answers

Amanda Fullerton said the recent report confirmed her family's suspicions of collusion
The family of murdered Sinn Fein councillor Eddie Fullerton (from left) Marina McLaughlin, Amanda Fullerton, Johnny Fullerton, wife Diana Fullerton, Eddie Fullerton and Anita Fullerton

The family of murdered Sinn Fein councillor Eddie Fullerton (from left) Marina McLaughlin, Amanda Fullerton, Johnny Fullerton, wife Diana Fullerton, Eddie Fullerton and Anita Fullerton

Allison Morris

A grieving daughter has called on the Irish Government to fulfil its responsibilities by pressing for justice for her murdered father.

Sinn Fein councillor Eddie Fullerton was shot dead at his home in Buncrana, Co Donegal, in May 1991 by UDA terrorists.

A complaint by the family kicked off a 14-year investigation that resulted in a report released on Thursday confirming their suspicions of collusion.

Amanda Fullerton said reading the Police Ombudsman’s report was “very emotional” for her mother, who is now 82.

“Our family were completely in the dark at the time on how to go about these things, we were willing to go down any avenue for support,” she explained.

“Being Eddie Fullerton’s daughter, it was a real double-whammy when Albert was killed. He was so concerned about the case and a great driving force — I knew I was stepping into big shoes.

“But we persisted with the help of the Pat Finucane Centre and a brilliant legal team in Kevin Winters.”

The family initially made a complaint in 2006.

In 2013 they were given an interim report by then Police Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire, who asked if they would be happy to be part of a wider investigation into the RUC handling of the loyalist murder gang responsible.

“At that stage he said he couldn’t present all his findings as he had discovered a link between the assassination and other murders in the north west region,” she said.

“He asked my family would we mind receiving an interim document that wasn’t complete to allow that wider investigation to be conducted.

“We agreed absolutely, as we didn’t want to damage the integrity of that investigation. So we had information on the forensic links to the weapons, but this investigation has revealed that one of the murder weapons was RUC-registered.

“Significantly, when my father was arrested in 1990, he was brought into Strand Road police station. In the custody suite there was an RUC officer who was known at the time to be passing information to loyalist paramilitaries. That is included in this report and our legal team think that’s extraordinarily significant. It was only a matter of weeks later that my father received his death threat.”

The officer in question is referred to as ‘Police Officer 12’ in the report, as he is now retired and was interviewed under caution about Mr Fullerton’s detention following his arrest during a border protest in January 1990.

The report states that the RUC became aware that Police Officer 12 was frequenting a bar “used by known loyalist paramilitaries”.

“Intelligence was received in late 1991 stating that Police Officer 12 was passing information to loyalist paramilitaries.”

When interviewed, he stated that it was a “safe place for him to socialise”.

“He denied ever speaking to any of them about his occupation or having passed information to them,” the report adds.

A file was passed to the PPS concerning the offence of misconduct in a public office, but there was no prosecution in the case.

“The reality is we have evidence the RUC colluded with loyalist assassins and targeted people like my father,” said Ms Fullerton.

“The onus is now on the Irish state to seek answers from the British Government about this and that’s clear.

“My father was a democratically elected public representative, and these people came across the border and assassinated him in that jurisdiction, and yet there has been very, very little by way of support from the Irish Government.

Niall Murphy of KRW Law said the report “proves that collusion was not a case of a few bad apples, confined to a geographic area”.

“We now know from these and other reports that collusion was systemic, in south Down, south Belfast, south and north Derry and mid Ulster — different police districts at different times, with different informers and killers,” Mr Murphy added.

“However, the blueprint remained the same — a blueprint now crystallised and evidenced in this report.”

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