Northern Ireland news

Unexplained killing of two Catholic men to be reviewed by Kenova

Martina Marks believes loyalists may have been responsible for killing her uncle Jimmy Marks after he and another man were shot in 1975
Connla Young

The unexplained murder of two Catholic men in Co Armagh is being reviewed by the team examining the Glenanne Gang series of killings.

Jimmy Marks (42) and Joseph Toland (78) died as a result of a gun attack on a minibus they were travelling in near the village of Gilford in Co Down in July 1975.

A father-of-two, Mr Marks - who had been driving the minibus - succumbed to his injuries several months later in January 1976.

Three female passengers were also seriously injured.

Mystery has surrounded the circumstances of the double murder with both the IRA and UVF being blamed in the past.

The killings are now being reviewed by the Kenova team, which is headed by former English police chief Jon Boutcher.

Kenova is currently carrying out the Barnard review, which is examining the Glenanne series.

The sectarian murder squad included members of the RUC, UDR and UVF and is believed to carried out more than 100 killings.

A spokesman for Kenova last night said: “We have met with the family and are in the process of reviewing this case to establish whether it was carried out by the Glenanne Gang, and to also ascertain who was part of that group."

The Gilford murders took place a day after the UVF's Miami Showband massacre , which claimed the lives of three musicians and two loyalists.

The two victims were travelling from a bingo session in Banbridge back to Bleary in Co Armagh when the gunmen struck.

In 2015 a Historical Enquiries Team report revealed that a rifle used in the attack was also linked to the IRA killing of two UDR members.

A second gun was also found in the possession of two IRA members in Lurgan in 1979.

Within hours of the attack the RUC focused on the theory that the IRA had carried out the Gilford ambush in revenge for the Miami killings.

Republicans later denied any involvement.

It has also been claimed that the UVF's notorious Glenanne Gang carried out the attack.

In a 2017 interview former RUC member John Weir told the Irish News that the attack was carried out by members of the gang including suspected British agent and UVF commander Robin 'The Jackal',

“HET say it was a republican job and they have proof of it - it was not," he said.

“It was a Robin Jackson job with Glenanne, the day after Miami was done.”

Relatives of Mr Marks recently met with Mr Boutcher to discuss the case.

His niece Martina Marks, who has taken on the case since the death of her father Michael last April, said she is hopeful of finding establishing the truth.

She described her uncle, who worked as an unofficial taxi driver, as a "quiet man".

"It went very well and I was very, very impressed with the set up and the amount of people backing him," she said.

"I am optimistic, he won't take no for an answer as far as I can see if he goes looking for papers or records.

"I felt confident after the meeting."

Ms Marks explained that she has been carrying out her own research into her uncle's murder and now believes loyalists have been responsible for the murder, although she hasn't totally discounted that it may have been "a rogue element of republicans".

"I am starting to believe it was loyalists," he said.

Solicitor Kevin Winters described the case as "unusual" adding that "the intervention of Jon Boutcher and his Kenova Team goes a long way to exposing the fallacy that the IRA were involved in this attack at long last this family can confidently look forward to a meaningful investigation."

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