Northern Ireland news

Family of man shot dead by loyalists calls for 'full disclosure' 25 years after murder

Eugene Thompson, whose brother Paul Thompson was shot dead by the UDA 25 years ago, pictured with Mark Thompson and Mike Richie from Relatives for Justice. Picture by Hugh Russell
Connla Young

The brother of a west Belfast man shot dead by loyalists 25 years ago has demanded "full disclosure" from authorities.

Paul 'Topper' Thompson was gunned down after the UDA cut a hole in a peace line fence close to a British army base to enter a nationalist area.

In the hours before the 25-year-old was shot a neighbour Brenda Murphy had reported a hole in the peaceline at Springfield Park to the RUC and Northern Ireland Office.

However, authorities failed to act.

Later that day Ms Murphy distributed leaflets around the area warning local people to be vigilant.

She was later one of the first people on the scene and comforted Mr Thompson as he lay dying.

The popular community artist had taken a lift from a taxi based at a local depot where he worked when the killers struck.

It was later claimed that a number of cameras on the nearby Henry Taggart British army barracks were not working.

The gun used to kill him is believed to have been smuggled into the north by British intelligence in the late 1980s.

His case is one of 50 inquest legacy cases due to be held in the coming years.

A previous inquest into the murder was never completed.

His brother Eugene said his brother is fondly remembered in the area where he lived.

"He was always out and about doing something, a well-known character," he said.

"To be only 25 when he died the way people talk about him still."

He spoke of his family's frustration at the continuing delays in holding an inquest.

"They just don't care about you," he said.

"They are just dragging their heels hoping this will go away, but it won't."

Mr Thompson's family believe there was collusion in the case and raised concern about the RUC's failure to respond to earlier warnings.

"Yes, without a doubt, everybody believes there was collusion," he said.

"To be honest if there had been one Jeep on that street this would not have happened."

Mr Thompson said that his mother Margaret died at the age of 61 without seeing justice.

"Basically it killed my mother, until her dying day she fought this," he said.

"For me I feel we are not getting anywhere but I don't want to feel like that.

"I want to push it and we are close now."

After his murder a community inquiry was held, which included a judge from the United States and human rights lawyer Gareth Peirce.

Mark Thompson from Relatives for Justice said the "impact of Paul's murder took a terrible toll".

“There had been a number of attacks in the area,” he said.

“The cameras were not working, the fence was removed, people came in to carry out the attack with relative ease – around the barracks they could have been mistaken for the IRA.

“It has all the hallmarks of collusion and the NIO need to answer questions as well as the RUC.”

A commemoration to mark the 25th anniversary of Mr Thompson's death will take place on Saturday, April 27, at 2pm in west Belfast.

Those attending are asked to assemble at the junction of Springfield Park and Springfield Road before a walk is held to the scene of the shooting.

Speakers will include Mark Thompson, Brenda Murphy and the family's solicitor Gemma McKeown from the Committee on the Administration of Justice.

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