Claims that RUC were watching house where two INLA men were shot dead

The family of INLA man Noel Little have asked for a new inquest into his death in 1980 amid claims that the RUC was carrying out a surveillance operation on the house where he was shot dead
Connla Young

THE family of a senior INLA member killed in unexplained circumstances have called for a fresh inquest amid claims that the RUC removed a surveillance team before the gun attack.

Noel Little (45) was shot dead along with fellow INLA member Ronnie Bunting (32) in west Belfast in October 1980.

Mystery has always surrounded who was responsible for the killings amid claims that the British Army may have been involved.

On the night of the double shooting Mr Little had been staying with Mr Bunting and his wife Suzanne at their Downfine Gardens home in the Andersonstown area of west Belfast.

Solicitors for his family recently wrote to Attorney General John Larkin to ask for a new inquest amid claims that the RUC’s E4A unit, which gathered information for Special Branch, had the house under surveillance shortly before the killings.

They claim to have information which suggests an undercover team was withdrawn even though there was intelligence to indicate an attack may have been imminent at the address.

Solicitor Michael Brentnall said on Friday night that the PSNI has refused to hand over police logs relating to the surveillance operation.

The murder weapons and the gang’s getaway car were never recovered.

The Police Ombudsman has been asked to investigate the case.

In an interview given just weeks after the double shootings Mr Bunting’s widow Suzanne, who was injured in the attack, said she had not doubt the two men were killed by the SAS.

After breaking down the front door with a sledgehammer the gunmen, dressed in combat gear, made their way upstairs where they calmly singled out and shot their victims.

Mr Little was sharing a room with the Bunting’s 18-month-old son when he was blasted to death.

Brought up a Protestant, Mr Bunting was a son of Major Ronald Bunting, a former close associate of Rev Ian Paisley.

Mr Little’s brother Paul Little said there are questions to be asked about the circumstances of his brother’s death.

“The Bunting house was under 24-physical surveillance and that surveillance was lifted just before the killings,” he said.

He said the family believes “some section of the British military” were involved in the killings.

“That’s what we are endeavouring to find out, a new inquest will help to piece some of that stuff together,” he said.

Mr Little said the former Historical Enquiries Team failed to fully examine the killings.

Solicitor Michael Brentnall last night said that if the RUC observation post was in place then the original inquest “did not get an opportunity to test the role the RUC or other organisations played in the murder”.

“Any investigation which excludes these aspects of the murder is deliberately flawed,” he said.

Both men were also members of the IRSP and involved in the National H-Block Committee, which campaigned for republicans prisoners to be given political status.

The double murder took place over a year after Tory MP Airey Neave was killed when an INLA booby trap bomb exploded under his car at the House of Commons in London.

In the months after Mr Neave’s death several high profile figures linked to the IRSP and the National H-Block Committee were shot dead or seriously injured including Miriam Daly who had resigned from the party shortly before she was killed in June 1980.

John Turnly, a Protestant who was a member of the National H- Block Committee, was killed in Co Antrim in June 1980 while former IRSP member and H-Block campaigner Bernadette McAliskey was also injured in her Co Tyrone home in January 1981.

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