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Cold case Shotgun discovered in the River Bann linked to Sinn Fein member's murder, source claim

Fished up weapon said to belong to UDR man who killed republican

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Tommy Donaghy

Tommy Donaghy

Tommy Donaghy

A shotgun found in the River Bann has been linked to the murder of a Sinn Féin member, it's been claimed.

Local sources allege the weapon was used to gun down Tommy Donaghy in 1991.

The veteran republican, who had been part of the blanket protest while jailed in the Maze for IRA offences, was shot several times in the head as he arrived for work at Portna Fisheries on Lough Neagh.

The gunmen wore balaclavas and military-style camouflage jackets.

The 38-year-old had been warned by police that he was on a loyalist hit-list and his family believed he had been under surveillance by an undercover Army unit.

After his murder it was claimed his details had been passed to his loyalist killer, a UDR soldier, who was later murdered by the IRA.

Republican sources believe the killer dumped the weapon in the river after shooting the Sinn Féin man.

It was discovered by a member of the public two weeks ago who was fishing and reported it to the PSNI. Police say the weapon is in very poor condition.

Donaghy, from Kilrea, was popular in the republican movement and respected locally as a Sinn Féin community worker.

He had been interned in the early seventies and was among the last to be released in 1975.

He was arrested again in 1977 and sentenced to 19 years in jail, having been convicted of a range of offences including IRA membership and attempting to murder members of the security forces.

In the Maze he joined the blanket protest in the H-Blocks when prisoners refused to wash or wear prison uniforms. He served 11 years before his release in 1988.

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"He'd been visited by police before he died and told his details were in the hands of loyalists," says an insider.

"He knew he'd be dead before Christmas.

"Tommy had had a fallout with the Provos because they shot a friend of his for stealing and he didn't think they should have done that.

"But he was a sound guy, and he was well thought of within republican circles.

"It was well known that he'd been shot by a loyalist who was in the UDR, who was later killed himself by the IRA.

"The story was that he'd dumped the shotgun he used to kill Tommy in the Bann near Coleraine."

It's unlikely the find will provide any new leads on the Donaghy murder because of the condition of the shotgun.

The proposed government amnesty on all Troubles-related killings would also rule out any further legal action.

"That gun's been in the water for years so there's very little hope there's any forensics left on it.

"And even if they did find anything on it, who's going to go after Tommy's case now?" says the source.

The shotgun is the latest in a number of weapons finds in the area this year.

In April police were alerted to parts of two rifles in a garden in Coleraine.

In July a revolver and long-barrelled gun were found at Agivey Bridge on the River Bann, near Ballymoney by members of the public who were fishing.

A rifle and camouflage belt were also found, wrapped in cling film on a cliff path near a Ballycastle caravan park on the same day.

The PSNI said yesterday that inquiries are ongoing into the latest find.

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