Northern Ireland news

Former INLA member dies in hospital following Milltown shooting at republican plot

Police at the scene of the incident at Milltown Cemetery on Thursday.

A REPUBLICAN convicted of killing two children and a British soldier in an INLA bomb attack has died after a shooting at Milltown Cemetery.

Michael McElkerney was airlifted to hospital following the incident at the republican plot in the west Belfast graveyard on Thursday.

Worried friends had rushed the cemetery after the 57-year-old made a number of concerning phone calls.

After a short search however the grandfather was discovered with head injuries, but still breathing, at the INLA plot. A handgun was found close by.

Emergency services were called and Mr McElkerney was transported to the nearby Royal Victoria Hospital by air ambulance.

He remained in a critical condition with his family at his bedside however he died at around lunchtime yesterday.

In 1987 McElkerney was sentenced to life in prison for an explosion in September 1982 which killed two schoolboys and a British soldier.

He was identified in court as the look-out for the INLA bomber who detonated the device at the Divis Flats complex in west Belfast.

Kevin Valliday (11), his friend Stephen Bennett (14) and Lance Bombardier Kevin Waller (20) all died as a result of the blast.

The botched attack caused a backlash in the area, with more than 200 women marching in protest to the headquarters of the IRSP, considered the INLA's political wing, on the Falls Road. McElkerney was arrested in 1986 after returning to Northern Ireland following a period of imprisonment in the Republic.

He was sentenced to three life terms in 1987.

He was among the first of the INLA prisoners to be released under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement when the organisation's six-month-old ceasefire was officially accepted in 1999 by then secretary of state Mo Mowlam.

He was also among a delegation that confirmed to the media in a press conference in 2010 that the INLA had decommissioned weapons.

He continued to play an active role in the IRSP after this period.

Police said they were not looking for anyone else in connection with the shooting.

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