Northern Ireland

Justice walk for murdered GAA members to take place before Derry v Tyrone clash

Call to support Sean Brown and Patsy Kelly campaigns

Murder victims Patsy Kelly and Sean Brown
Murder victims Patsy Kelly and Sean Brown

GAA supporters from across Derry and Tyrone are being urged to stand with the families of two members killed by loyalists.

Collusion is suspected in the separate murders of Co Derry GAA official Sean Brown and Tyrone man Patsy Kelly more than 20 years earlier.

Gaels from across both counties and beyond are being asked to take part in a walk from Free Derry Corner to Celtic Park ahead of the national league clash between the Oakleaf County and Tyrone this Sunday.

Social media post prosmoting the event carry the words ‘the GAA community demands justice for Sean Brown and Patsy Kelly’.

Mr Brown, a father of six, was attacked and beaten by an LVF gang as he locked the gates at Bellaghy Wolfe Tones GAC in May 1997.

After being placed in the boot of his own car, the club chairman was taken to a country lane outside Randalstown, Co Antrim, where he was shot six times.

Several of those thought to be involved are believed to be state agents.

Earlier this month a coroner heard that a serving member of the Royal Irish Regiment (RIR) is a suspect in the murder.

Mr Brown’s inquest, which to date has included around 40 hearings, has been held up due to repeated PSNI disclosure delays.

Under the British government’s controversial Legacy Act all inquests must be at their findings stage by May 1 or they will be halted.

Mr Kelly¸ who was a member of Omagh District Council, is thought to have been killed as he returned home from work at a bar in Trillick, Co Tyrone, in July 1974.

His remains were weighed down before being dumped in Lough Eyes in Co Fermanagh and were recovered three weeks later when they floated to the surface.

A report published by the Police Ombudsman last year found there was evidence of collusive behaviour on the part of some RUC officers and that there were a series of “significant” investigative failings in the case.

UDR members are suspected of involvement in the murders of Sean Brown and Patsy Kelly
UDR members are suspected of involvement in the murders of Sean Brown and Patsy Kelly

The Kelly family, and many in the local community, suspect the involvement of UDR members in the murder.

A new inquest into Mr Kelly’s death was ordered by the Attorney General last July after a previous call for one was rejected.

However, the Kelly family were later told that coroners could not be allocated to outstanding legacy inquests due to a lack of resources.

Gaels are being urged to attend a walk in support of the Patsy Kelly and Sean Brown justice campaigns
Gaels are being urged to attend a walk in support of the Patsy Kelly and Sean Brown justice campaigns

It is expected that several high profile GAA figures will attend Sunday’s walk in support of the Brown and Kelly families including president-elect Jarlath Burns, Ulster Council President Ciarán McLaughlin, Tyrone legend Peter Canavan and Derry All-Ireland winners Joe Brolly, Seamus Downey and Henry Downey.

Mr Brown’s daughter Siobhán Brown said that at the time of his murder her father “was very much at the forefront of what the GAA stood for”.

“He would have had no hesitation in supporting anyone else who was faced with an unimaginable situation like the one that we are now facing,” she said.

“We would ask all Derry and Tyrone Gaels who are travelling to Celtic Park on Sunday to join with the Brown and Kelly families to show their support to the ongoing battle for justice, not only for both families, but all GAA families in light of the May 1 deadline, which will bring to an end the inquests.”

Hitting out at delays she added:

“Although daddy’s inquest started in March 2023 we have been faced with countless delays in progressing matters with numerous deadlines missed for submission of materials by the PSNI.”

She said the delays meant the inquest may never be heard and they might never get the answers they sought.

“Would you tolerate this if it was a member of your family or community?”

The walk in support of Mr Brown and Mr Kelly will take start at Free Derry Corner on Sunday at 2pm.

A spokesman for the PSNI said: “We are supporting the Coroner’s Service during this Inquest and we will continue to do so.

“As this is the subject of ongoing Inquest proceedings, it would be inappropriate for the Police Service to comment further at this time.”