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Family speaks of parents' murders for first time

Married Catholic couple Peter and Jane McKearney who were shot dead outside the Moy by the UVF in October 1975. Picture by Mal McCann
Connla Young

THE family of a Catholic couple shot dead by a notorious loyalist gang 40 years ago has appealed for anyone with information about the brutal murders to come forward.

Husband and wife Peter (63) and Jane McKearney (58) died after gunmen burst into their home near the Moy 40 years ago and sprayed them with automatic gunfire.

They were killed by the Glenanne Gang, which included members of the RUC, UDR and UVF.

Now after 40 years the couple’s children have spoken for the first time about the night their family was ripped apart.

Their son Sean believes the gunmen also intended to shoot other family members but they were not at home.

He said neither of his parents had any “paramilitary or political” connections and their house was open to all their neighbours, both Protestant and Catholic.

The enormity of what happened only struck him weeks after the attack.

“I remember calling at their house three or four weeks after they were shot and the back door was shut and locked and there was nobody there and reality jumped in big time," he said.

“My da would have been at the window and my mother would have been baking. That was a tough day.”

His sister Marian McCann said she and her brothers still carry the burden of what happened.

“The McKearney family have now served 40 years and all they are asking for is the truth, by who and why were they singled out?"

Mrs McCann said her family was also targeted by the RUC after her parents were killed.

“In the aftermath of the tragedy the five McKearney children were offered no support from politicians or the state.

“The only people to visit were detectives questioning and questioning, which was bordering on harassment by at times suggesting that they were possibly involved with paramilitaries.”

One man, Garnet Busby, was convicted of killing the couple in 1981 as well as involvement in the Hillcrest Bar bombing in Dungannon in 1976 which resulted in the deaths of four Catholics, including two 13-year-old boys.

One of the weapons used in the McKearney attack, a Sterling submachine gun, had been stolen from a UDR base at Glenanne in south Armagh and was used in other sectarian attacks.

It has also been claimed that members of the RUC’s Special Patrol Group were in the area at the time of the attack, which was said to have been planned at a club in Portadown days earlier, but failed to respond to the murder.

Mrs McCann urged anyone with information about the murder of her parents to contact the Pat Finucane Centre in Armagh on 3751 5191.

A 40th anniversary Mass for the couple will be held at St John’s Church, Moy on Friday, October  at 8pm.

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