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Murdered GAA star's family call for change in law

James Hughes's sister Rita Duffy and brother Christopher Hughes in Crossmaglen, Co Armagh. Picture by Irish Dally Mail

THE family of a murdered GAA star have called for a change in the law after his killer's relatives were awarded €50,000 over his suicide in a courthouse cell.

A sister of three-times All-Ireland club winner James Hughes - captain of the Crossmaglen Rangers football team - said "something has to change".

Rita Duffy also told The Irish News that four years on from her brother's death they are still no closer to finding out why Shane Rogers was allowed to hold gun licences.

Rogers shot Mr Hughes in Dundalk in December 2011 after seeing the father-of-three talking to his estranged girlfriend Patricia Byrne.

Nine days later the 32-year-old from Co Monaghan took his own life in a holding cell at Cloverhill Courthouse in Dublin.

His death while on suicide watch was the subject of a report by the Republic's Inspector of Prisons which identified several failings by authorities.

His family brought an action seeking damages for mental shock and distress and it emerged earlier this week a settlement of €50,000 had been approved.

Ms Duffy said changes to the legal system are now needed.

She also claimed Rogers had previous convictions for crimes including assault and should not have been allowed to own three legally-held weapons.

"As a family, we're disgusted, devastated, heartbroken all over again," she said.

"At the end of the day, they shouldn't have got the money.

"It's fine they are looking for answers to their son's death, quite rightly. But what I don't understand is that their son admitted when he handed himself in that he murdered James that night.

"I don't deny they should have got questions answered and mistakes should have been learnt for future reference, but they shouldn't have got payment for that.

"If it means there has to be a law for future reference put out there that this doesn't happen again, something has to change.

"At most, they should have got an apology, but it should have stopped there."

Ms Duffy said there is "not a day goes by that we don't think of James".

"It just goes to show you the innocent people are always left suffering," she said.

"It's not just James' family and his three sons have suffered, it's the whole community.

"We know Rogers had previous convictions, from the word go we asked did he have previous convictions and we have been told 'no' time and time again.

"We cannot grieve properly with all these unanswered questions. We don't want anyone else to go through the pain and heartache we've went through."

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