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Allison Morris: The families of Eamon Fox and and Gary Convey have waited over 23-years for justice

Eamon Fox, shot dead by loyalist gunmen on a building site in 1994.

The families of Eamon Fox and and Gary Convey have waited over 23-years for justice.

They have waited, with quiet dignity, weary of the constant set backs, false hope followed by further set backs.

So while they have been told that James Smyth will now stand trial for the double murder of the two hard working men, gunned down while eating lunch in May 1994, there is no joy for the families instead just more questions.

Kieran Fox asked yesterday why if evidence exists to prosecute those responsible for his father's murder has it taken so long to get their day in court.

One of those believed to be responsible for the cowardly sectarian murder has since died.

The answer to many of the Fox family's questions can be found in the 2007 report by former Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan.

Operation Ballast painted a grim picture of a gang of ruthless criminals who made up the Mount Vernon UVF, riddled with informers, murdering with impunity.

Mrs O'Loan's team discovered payments of at least £79,840 were made to one informer alone during a time when the gang were linked to ten murders.

Gary Haggarty agreed to be a police witness almost eight years ago. His career as a paid police informant stretches back much further.

He will now give evidence against one suspect before disappearing into a new life in witness protection. There is no such new life or fresh start for the families of his victims.

The police officers who ran informers in Mount Vernon and those higher up who sanctioned the practice of paying active UVF men will not be prosecuted, and so yesterday was not a day of celebration for either the Fox or Convey families, for this is not justice by any normal definition.

Catholic workman Gary Convey who was shot dead by the UVF in 1994.

 

Barra McGrory said yesterday that one man will now face prosecution for the murders of two Catholic workmen in 1994. Picture by Hugh Russell.

Gary Haggarty, the UVF's former brigadier for south east Antrim and member of the notorious Mount Vernon gang

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