Northern Ireland news

Claims RUC members `held parties' in van used at the Loughgall killings `sickening' - Sinn Fein MP Francie Molloy

The bullet riddled Hiace van in which 8 IRA men were shot dead by the SAS outside Loughgall RUC station in 1988. Picture by Pacemaker

CLAIMS RUC members held parties in the van used in the Loughgall killings are "sickening and will add to the grief of the families", Sinn Féin MP Francie Molloy has said.

The claim was made on a Facebook page believed to be used by British army veterans earlier this week and were branded "depraved" by relatives of those killed by the SAS on May 8, 1987.

The admission was later removed from a thread on the Hereford Veterans Association page.

Eight IRA members and a passing civilian were shot dead in Co Armagh as the unit attempted to launch a gun and bomb attack on the village police station.

The members of the notorious East Tyrone Brigade were shot dead after they loaded a 200lb bomb onto a stolen digger and smashed through the gates of the RUC barracks.

Declassified documents released through the National Archives in Dublin revealed that ballistic tests on weapons found on the dead were used in 40-50 murders, including every republican killing in Fermanagh and Tyrone in 1987.

Three days after Loughgall, Tanaiste and Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Brian Lenihan wrote to Northern Ireland Secretary of State Tom King urging him not to display any triumphalism over the killings.

Pictures of several dead IRA men and the bullet ridden Toyota Hiace van they travelled into Loughgall in were posted on the page.

Another photograph claims to show the rusting van pictured sitting in Gough Barracks in Armagh around 10 years after the ambush.

The former RUC member posted underneath the picture: "During continuity training in 1988 we'd have parties in the back of it.

"The orange lights of HG (Gough Barracks) made for an interesting spectacle as they shone the very many bullet holes….."

Mid Ulster MP Francie Molloy said the party's "first thoughts are with the friends and families of the nine men killed at Loughgall in May 1987".

"Claims that members of the RUC disrespected their memory in such a callous, calculated and deliberate way are sickening and will only add to the hurt and grief of the families," he added.

"The actions of these RUC members stand in stark contrast to the actions of the Loughgall families who have been campaigning in a dignified and respectful manner for inquests into the deaths of their loved ones in order to access the truth of what happened on that awful day."

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