Northern Ireland news

Armagh 'Lost gun' to be raised in the Dail

Police have carried out a search at a property in Co Armagh near Moy nine days after a gun and ammunition find was reported to police. Picture by Hugh Russell.
Connla Young

Claims by the PSNI that it had no record of a 'lost' gun later found in a Co Armagh police station are to be raised in the Dail.

Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín says he intends to raise the controversy next week and has contacted the offices of Taoiseach Micheál Martin and foreign affairs minister Simon Coveney.

The prominent TD has also urged the Irish government to raise claims by the PSNI that it had no record of a gun handed in by a member of the public with secretary of state Brandon Lewis.

The call comes after a gun was 'lost' in a Co Armagh police station for four days before being located in an armoury.

The weapon, understood to be a .38 revolver along with 200 rounds of ammunition, was found by demolition workers at a house near Moy last Monday and later handed over to police in Armagh.

A member of the public who contacted police was told to take the weapon to a police station.

It had earlier been found in a bag hidden between a sheet of asbestos and the tin roof of a building under demolition.

The property is around one mile from the spot where Mid Ulster Aontú councillor Denise Mullen's father, SDLP activist Denis Mullen, was shot dead by members of the Glenanne Gang in September 1975.

Mr Tóibín said: "This is obviously a significant threat to confidence that people have in the ability of the PSNI to focus on trying to resolve the horrendous crimes of the past.

"If this is cock up you really have to ask yourself the question 'how can something of such a sensitive and important nature to so may families in that area be treated so lightly that it allows for repeated mistakes to be made'."

Relatives for Justice spokesman Mark Thompson claimed the latest incident "underlines that the PSNI cannot be trusted when it comes to dealing with the past and legacy".

A major search operation was later launched in the area where the gun was found nine days after the initial report was made.

It is believed that a mixed variety of ammunition recovered was also found.

It is not the first time the PSNI has claimed to be unaware of a weapons find in the area.

In 2016 the PSNI said it had “no knowledge” of a similar find by workmen at a property in the Tamnamore area of Co Tyrone.

However, the force later admitted that a gun and ammunition had been discovered.

In 2018 police said ballistics tests had been carried out on the weapon and “it is not being linked to any known incident or crime at this time”.

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