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Family of Jimmy Marks deserve answers

Anniversaries of appalling murders from our troubled past often serve to highlight the frustrating search for answers by the families of those who have lost their lives.

Despite the passage of time, it is all too apparent that many people carry pain and grief with them every single day.

Their desire to find out the full circumstances of a loved one's death has not diminished with the years, indeed the opposite is frequently the case.

In recent weeks events have taken place marking the 40th anniversary of the Miami Showband massacre, with one survivor calling on the British government to formally apologise for collusion in that terrible atrocity.

The day following that shocking crime, another murderous attack took place, on August 1, 1975, when a minibus carrying people home from bingo was ambushed near Gilford, Co Down.

Father of 12, James Joseph Toland (78) was shot dead and three women seriously injured. Driver Jimmy Marks (42), a father of two young sons, was critically wounded and died five months later.

The initial RUC theory was that the IRA had carried out the ambush in retaliation for the Miami attack, mistakenly believing the minibus was a police vehicle.

However, there was also a widespread belief the driver and passengers were targeted by the Glennane Gang, who were responsible for the Miami murders. For its part, the IRA denied involvement.

This is a dreadful crime which, like so many others, has received very little attention over the years.

Four decades on, the family of Jimmy Marks has spoken out about their struggle to move the case forward.

The Historical Enquiries Team (HET) did carry out an investigation and relatives have now revealed the report concluded the weapons used were linked to the IRA.

Ballistics showed a rifle was connected to the IRA killing of two female UDR members while a second weapon was found in the possession of two IRA men in Lurgan in 1979.

They believe republicans carried out the ambush, thinking they were attacking a police minibus, and want a ``dedicated investigation'' to uncover all the facts behind the killing of Mr Marks.

Certainly, relatives deserve answers from the police, whose investigation at the time was totally inadequate and raises serious questions in the minds of the family.

But republicans, who campaign for victims to be told the truth about a loved one's death, must now tell the family of Jimmy Marks what they know of the circumstances surrounding this attack.

If the IRA was involved, then they should admit it and disclose any relevant information.

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