Northern Ireland

New inquest ordered into murder with suspected UDR links

Sinn Féin member James Murphy was shot dead in Co Fermanagh almost 50 years ago

James Murphy was killed by loyalists in Co Fermangh almost 50 years ago
James Murphy was killed by loyalists in Co Fermanagh almost 50 years ago

The Attorney General has ordered a new inquest into the murder of a man killed by a loyalist gang with suspected links to the UDR almost 50 years ago.

James Murphy (42) was shot dead at his garage near Derrylin, Co Fermanagh, in April 1974, in an attack linked to the UVF.

A member of Sinn Féin, he was also a civil rights activist.

Regularly stopped by the British army before he was killed, his family received letters mocking his death after the murder.

His case has been linked to other shootings and murders carried out in Tyrone and Fermanagh in the mid-1970s.

His death was referred to in a Police Ombudsman’s report into the 1974 murder of Tyrone based independent councillor Patsy Kelly, which was published last year.

It found there was collusive behaviour on the part of some RUC officers and that there were a series of “significant” investigative failings in the case.

It also found that police failed to link the murder of Mr Murphy and a gun attack at the Corner Bar, Trillick, Co Tyrone in January 1974, which was carried out a day after the IRA shot dead a UDR man outside the village.

Forensic tests later established that the same .455 calibre Colt type revolver was used in Mr Murphy’s murder and the attack at the Corner Bar.

Two other gun attacks in Enniskillen the same evening were also linked to the same weapon.

Patsy Kelly was murdered in July 1974 
Patsy Kelly was murdered in July 1974  Patsy Kelly was murdered in July 1974 

A .455 revolver was also used in the murder of Mr Kelly, who was abducted after leaving work at the Corner Bar in July 1974.

The new inquest was ordered by Attorney General Brenda King this week.

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

Mr Murphy’s niece Joan Corrigan welcomed the inquest decision.

“I am obviously delighted with the Attorney General’s decision as it has always been said that collusion was at the heart of my uncle’s murder,” she said.

“It will not bring him back, but April 2024 will mark the 50th anniversary of his murder and I can look at his photograph on my wall and know I did as much as I could for his memory.

“He was a civil rights activist who sought truth, justice and equality, as do I, and a new inquest would be an extremely fitting tribute to him.”

Solicitor Niall Murphy, of KRW Law, said “it is poignant and sad that it has taken 50 years for official recognition that original RUC investigation into Jim’s murder was failed and defective”.

Ciarán MacAirt from the charity, Paper Trail said the killer gang consisted of “British soldiers and paramilitaries”.

“Their victims were well-known Catholic activists and business people like Jim Murphy and Councillor Kelly,” he said.

“Their attacks intended to strike fear into the local Catholic community.”