Northern Ireland

Widow dies three months after collusion settlement over husband’s loyalist murder

Mary Loughrey died aged 81

Marie Newton, widow of John Toland, and Mary Loughrey, widow of Jim Loughrey, outside the Royal Courts Justice in Belfast after they settled their cases against the Ministry of Defence and PSNI
Murder victim, Jim Loughrey's wife Mary took the collusion case along with Marie Newton, widow of John Toland, who was also murdered by the UDA in 1976. (Liam McBurney/PA)

The widow of a 1976 loyalist murder victim has died just three months after receiving “significant” damages from the MoD and PSNI over security force collusion in her husband’s killing.

Mary Loughrey (81), who died on Thursday, has been described as a “courageous and resilient” woman. A mother-of-eight, her Requiem Mass will take place at the Star of the Sea church in Faughanvale on Sunday at 12pm.

In February this year, Mrs Loughrey, received a “significant” settlement from the PSNI and MoD after taking legal action over collusion in the murder of her husband, Jim (36). Mrs Loughrey’s action was taken jointly with Marie Newton, the widow of a second victim of the same UDA gang, John Toland (36).

Jim Loughrey, 36, was shot several times at his home in Greysteel by UDA gunmen
Jim Loughrey, 36, was shot several times at his home in Greysteel by UDA gunmen (Family handout/PA)

Mrs Loughrey’s husband died eleven days after he was shot and seriously injured at his home at Greysteel, Co Derry, on the evening of November 14, 1976. Two gunmen shot Mr Loughrey twelve times in front of his wife and eight young children.

Just over a week later, on November 22, 1976, John Toland was shot in the back by two gunmen at the Happy Landings Bar in nearby Eglinton. Mr Toland, a father-of-seven young children, was manager of the bar.

A subsequent Historical Enquiries Team (HET) report concluded that there was collusion between the security forces and the UDA killers in both murders. One of the gunmen who shot Mr Loughrey was also involved in the murder of Mr Toland while the same gun was used in both murders.

Human rights’ group, the Pat Finucane Centre (PFC) paid tribute to Mrs Loughrey.

Spokeswoman, Sara Duddy said the organisation, which worked closely with both families, was “deeply saddened” at news of her death.

“Despite the devastating emotional and financial impact of Jim’s murder, Mary’s focus was to give her children the best opportunities in life. She was courageous, resilient, and had an amazing sense of humour,” Ms Duddy said.

“When we visited her at her home in Greysteel a couple of weeks ago, she spoke of the contentment at seeing the case finally conclude.”

Members of the Toland family also paid tribute to Mrs Loughrey. Mr Toland’s daughter, Majella offered her condolences to the Loughrey family.

“Such a lovely woman and a lovely family, fought so hard with our own mum for justice for her husband, murdered in the Troubles,” Ms Toland said.