Northern Ireland news


GAA club offers support to family of murdered official Sean Brown over British government inquest ban proposals

Murdered GAA official Sean Brown
Connla Young

A Co Derry GAA club has written a letter of support for the family of loyalist murder victim Sean Brown weeks after the British government revealed plans to end Troubles inquests.

The letter from Bellaghy Wolfe Tones GAC comes just weeks after the Secretary of State Brandon Lewis confirmed his government intends to end inquests and civil proceedings.

It also plans to introduce an amnesty for those who took part in the Troubles pre 1998.

Mr Brown, who was Bellaghy club chairman, was attacked and beaten by members of an LVF gang as he locked the gates at its grounds in May 1997.

After being placed in the boot of his own car he was taken to a country lane outside Randalstown in Co Antrim where he was shot six times.

His remains were later found beside his burning car.

No-one has ever been charged in connection with his murder.

Some of those involved are believed to have been working as state agents at the time.

Since his death his family has attended around 30 preliminary inquest hearings.

His full inquest is part of a series due to be held in the coming years.

A father-of-six, Mr Brown was well known in south Derry as a dedicated family man and GAA stalwart.

Bellaghy's main grounds in the village are named after the former clubman.

In its letter the Bellaghy club said:

"Sean was a family man who worked tirelessly and selflessly for our club.

"He was described by Seamus Heaney as 'a man of integrity and good will'."

"Subsequent investigations into this terrible crime have reached no conclusion.

"In January 2004 the report of the Police Ombudsman was highly critical of the police investigation."

The club referred to the inquest process and added that it "fully supports the Brown family, Pat Finucane Centre and Relatives for Justice in their ongoing quest for truth and justice in this 'shocking and sinister' murder".

In a statement last night Mr Brown's son Damian welcomed the support.

"The family appreciates the support from the GAA community," he said.

"We will not allow anyone or anything get in the way of a full inquest as is our legal right."

Paul O'Connor from the Pat Finucane Centre, "if Brandon Lewis decides to bulldoze through his legacy proposals and stop all inquests, investigations and civil actions he will find himself on a collision course with the GAA family across the island of Ireland given the many GAA members and players who were murdered," he said.

"Good luck with that."

Several GAA clubs across the north have used social media to offer their support to the Brown family, including the Naomh Éanna club in north Belfast, whose senior manager Gerry Devlin was also shot dead by loyalists six months after Mr Brown.

Both the Co Derry GAA Board and the Northern Ireland Office have been contacted for a response.

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