Northern Ireland news

Sister of IRA man killed by SAS challenges MoD to distance itself from banner 'mocking' Loughgall deaths

A banner supporting the British army has been put up in Loughgall
Connla Young

THE sister of an IRA man shot dead by the SAS in Loughgall has called on British defence chiefs to distance themselves from a banner she claims mocks his death.

Mairead Kelly spoke out after the banner was put up in the Co Armagh village in recent days.

Her brother Paddy Kelly was one of eight IRA men killed during an attack on Loughgall's RUC station 32 years ago on May 8 1987.

Civilian Anthony Hughes was also killed when he and his brother unwittingly drove into the ambush zone.

The banner, which reads “Loughgall supports our troops”, carries the logos of the SAS and Parachute Regiment.

Mairead Kelly's brother Patrick Kelly the IRA was shot dead during an attack on Loughgall RUC in May 1987

Similar banners have been put up in loyalist areas across the north after it emerged that a former British soldier, known as ‘Soldier F’, is to face prosecution for the murder of two men on Bloody Sunday in 1971.

Read More: Bloody Sunday prosecution: Who is Soldier F?

Ms Kelly said military chiefs should distance themselves from the display.

“I think if a different flag went up somewhere else there would be a loud outcry,” she said.

Read More: Tory MP Johnny Mercer refuses to support Theresa May until probes into British army veterans end

“I think it’s insensitive particularly because the SAS killed nine people in that area.

The eight IRA men shot dead by the SAS at Loughgall. From top-left: Patrick McKearney, Tony Gormley, Jim Lynagh, Paddy Kelly; from bottom left: Declan Arthurs, Gerard O'Callaghan, Seamus Donnelly, Eugene Kelly.

“It shows a total disregard for the sensitivities of the families.

“I don’t think anybody should mock or take delight in the killing of anyone.”

Read More: Supporters of 'Soldier F' threaten to 'bring this country to a standstill'

Ms Kelly said “these symbols on this banner are MoD symbols”.

“The MoD has to distance themselves publicly or take responsibility and have the banner removed,” she said.

Independent councillor Barry Monteith also said the banner is "very provocative" and caused distress to relatives of those killed.

"I would support the families in their call to have it removed," he said.

A spokesman for the MoD declined to comment.

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