Declan McGlinchey was on path to peace before his sudden death, say family

Suzanne McGonagle
03 November, 2015 01:00

A PROMINENT republican questioned by police about the killing of two Briitsh soldiers was moving towards supporting the peace process before his sudden death, his family have said.

Declan McGlinchey (39), a son of INLA gunman Dominic McGlinchey, died at his south Derry home early yesterday after a suspected heart attack.

The father-of-seven suffered chest pains at his Bellaghy home late on Sunday night. He was treated by paramedics, but died at the scene.

His uncle, Sean McGlinchey, told The Irish News on Monday of the family's shock at his death and said they had been left "distraught".

A prominent republican, Declan McGlinchey has been arrested in the past in connection with a bombing and the Massereene Barracks murders.

But in recent years, Declan - a member of the Irish Republican Socialist Party - had become involved in campaigning on behalf of dissident republican prisoners.

Declan and younger brother Dominic hail from a well-known republican family and have been hit by tragedy from a young age.

Their father Dominic McGlinchey - a high-profile member of INLA and once the most wanted men in Ireland - was murdered in February 1994.

Dominic McGlinchey snr claimed in a newspaper interview that he killed 31 people, including a child and more than 200 other operations against the security forces. Those included the 1982 Ballykelly disco bombing in which six soldiers and 11 civilians were killed.

He was killed in an INLA feud in Drogheda as he made a call from a phone box and two men got out of a vehicle and shot him 14 times.

Declan's mother Mary was also shot dead as part of an internal INLA feud in 1987.

She was gunned down in front of Declan and brother Dominic, aged 10 and nine, in the bathroom of their Dundalk home whilst she bathed her two young sons.

No-one has ever been charged in connection with either of their deaths.

Their younger sister, Máire also died of meningitis in 1985, at just 18 months.

Sean McGlinchey said the family had been left devastated by the latest tragedy to hit the family.

"He was at home on Sunday night and took chest pains about 11.30pm," he said.

"An ambulance and paramedics arrived, but there was nothing they could do.

"It's his wife and seven kids we are so devastated for, the youngest is just two and the eldest 18. Brenda is left to bring up their seven children.

"It's yet another nightmare for the family, his wife is devastated, Dominic and the whole family are devastated and distraught.

"It’s shocking and when you look at what he went through at such a young age, burying his mother and father and then his sister who died young from illness, it's tragic.

"We are all a very close-knit family and we will help Brenda through this, we will help Dominic."

In October 2006, Declan was remanded in custody at Derry Magistrates' Court on explosives charges connected to the discovery of a bomb in Bellaghy.

He was later cleared of the charges.

Declan and Dominic McGlinchey were both questioned by police about the murders of Sappers Mark Quinsey and Patrick Azimkar at Massereene Barracks.

News of their questioning about the March 2009 murders emerged during the 2011 trial of Colin Duffy.

Duffy's barrister told the court police had "reliable information" and questioned the brothers about the attack on Massereene.

Defence barrister Barry MacDonald QC told the trial: "Police hold reliable information to indicate that a son of Dominic McGlinchey Snr was the driver of the vehicle which was subsequently recovered by police and was used in the fatal shooting of two soldiers".

However, no charges were ever brought against the two men. Duffy was later acquitted of all charges.

Sean McGlinchey, a former IRA member and Sinn Féin councillor, said his nephew had been enjoying helping others to contribute to more peaceful means.

"Declan had moved on in the last few years and had found himself in a place in his life where he was contributing to the peace process," he said,

"He wanted to contribute to the peace process and he was making efforts in to bringing people in. He loved doing it, helping others.

"He had found a part of his life that he enjoyed and he was moving on."

Mr McGlinchey added: "They are a strong family, we will try to help them get through this, we will get Dominic and Brenda and the family through this".

In a statement on their Facebook page, the Vol Matt McLarnon Cumann Irish Republican Socialist Party wrote of their "deep shock and sadness".

"Declan, like many other kids in occupied Ireland, was born into a life of hardships and struggle," they said.

"He was the son of Dominic and Mary McGlinchey, two dedicated republican socialist activists from the south Derry area.

"Declan dedicated himself in the past couple of years to rebuilding the Irish Republican Socialist Movement in the south Derry area.

"He was involved in helping to set up a new IRSP Cumann there, and was instrumental in establishing a vibrant and effective Teach an Failte and the Martyrs na hEireann flute band.

"He will be a huge loss to the R.S.M and our thoughts are with his family at this terrible time."

His funeral is due to be held in Bellaghy on Wednesday. Requiem Mass will be celebrated in Church of St Mary's at 11am followed by interment in the adjoining cemetery.

03 November, 2015 01:00 News

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