Northern Ireland news

UVF murder victim's family sceptical about PPS review into prosecutions

Sean McParland's daughter Sinead Monaghan and her husband Michael. Picture by Matt Bohill
Connla Young

RELATIVES of murder victim Sean McParland have expressed scepticism about the prospects of further prosecutions in the case.

The 55-year-old Catholic was shot by police informer Gary Haggarty as he babysat his four grandchildren at Skegoniel Avenue in north Belfast in February 1994.

His family was told about a review of a decision not to bring charges against two retired Special Branch officers who alleged directed Haggarty in March.

Mr McParland’s son-in-law Michael Monaghan last night revealed that the Public Prosecution Service also told them there are “outstanding decisions” in relation to two people reported by police in connection with the murder.

PPS to review Sean McParland prosecution decisions

It is understood that neither of the people was present when the victim was shot but were alleged by Haggarty to have had a role either before or after it.

The Irish News also learned last night that a decision not to prosecute four other people in connection with the case is to be reviewed.

Mr Monaghan, who was the intended target on the night his father-in-law was killed, said the wider family was given no prior notice of the UVF supergrass's release from prison last week.

He had served just over four years despite pleading guilty to five murders and more than 500 other paramilitary-related crimes.

Mr Monaghan said he is sceptical about the review now being carried out by prosecutors.

“Is this the PPS saying we will look at this again and then refuse it?” he said.

“Is it just a procedure?”

Mr Monaghan added that his family’s ongoing campaign for justice has worn them out.

After he was shot Mr McParland was treated in hospital but died a week later.

He had earlier had his voice box removed during a battle with cancer.

Mr Monaghan revealed that before he passed away, his father-in-law called him to his bedside.

“He said ‘Better me than you, look after Sinead and the kids’. I had to lip read him. It does stick in the head.”

During court hearings it emerged that UVF members were due to toss a coin to see who would kill the innocent man but Haggarty volunteered.

Mr Monaghan said his family has been left deeply disappointed by his early release.

“He is just a serial killer,” he said.

“He is going to have a decent life, a decent pension and a good life.

“It has taken its toll on our own family with stress – that this is our justice system.”

Mary McCallan from Relatives for Justice, who has worked with the family, said they have been treated badly.

“We feel the families have been treated disdainfully through the process and that they were not notified of Haggarty’s release is a continuation of that.”

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