Northern Ireland

Gun used at INLA funeral featured in BBC Stacey Dooley documentary

A weapon used to fire a volley of shots in west Belfast following the death of former INLA prisoner Michael McElkerney has previously featured in a BBC documentary.

The RK 62, based on the Polish version of the AK47, is the standard infantry weapon used by the Finnish Defence Forces.

The distinctive assault rifle, which has been customised with an unusual metal stock, is one of a number of high powered rifles acquired by the INLA in recent years.

Officially on ceasefire the organisation has continued to rearm despite publicly announcing decommissioning in 2010.

In September last year BBC Three's Stacey Dooley presented a documentary 'Shot by my Neighbour' investigating paramilitary style shootings in Northern Ireland.

As part of the documentary she was filmed in the back of a van being taken to a secret location to interview masked and armed members of the INLA standing in front of a Starry Plough flag.

One of the men is heard talking about shooting young people in punishment style attacks, saying it was "social action ... if we have to shoot someone to help people, then we'll do it".

Behind him stand three masked men armed with rifles, one of the guns pictured is the same rifle used in the Divis area of west Belfast on Monday evening when six masked men formed a guard of honour outside Martin McElkerney's home.

Masked gunmen fire a volley of shots outside the home of INLA man Martin McElkerney.
Masked gunmen fire a volley of shots outside the home of INLA man Martin McElkerney.

One man raised the semi automatic weapon in the air and fired a number of shots in front of a cheering crowd.

Mr McElkerney died in hospital last Friday, a day after he was airlifted to hospital from the republican plot of Milltown cemetery having suffered serious head injuries.

He had previously made distressed calls to friends who went to the graveyard to search for him after becoming concerned for his safety.

The PSNI confirmed that a gun was recovered from the scene and that they were not seeking anyone else in connection with the incident.

Masked armed INLA men featured in a BBC Three documentary.
Masked armed INLA men featured in a BBC Three documentary.

A former life sentence prisoner he was released from prison in 2000 under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

He had been sentenced to three life terms for his part in an INLA bomb that killed of Kevin Valliday (11), Stephen Bennett (14) and Lance Bombardier Kevin Waller (20) at the Divis Flats complex in west Belfast in 1982.

After his release from prison he played an active role in the organisation's political wing, the Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP), and was part of a four person delegation that announced the INLA had decommissioned weapons in 2010.

Mr McElkerney's funeral will take place on Thursday, leaving his home in the Divis area of west Belfast for Requiem Mass officiated by Fr Gary Donegan at St Peter's Cathedral at 11am.