Northern Ireland news

Family of Sinn Féin election worker shot dead by IRA urge republicans to explain death

Noreen Brennan with a picture of her brother Kieran Murray, who was shot dead while travelling in a car along Slate Quarry Road, near Pomeroy, Co Tyrone, in 1985. Picture by Mal McCann
Connla Young

THE family of a Sinn Féin election worker accidentally shot dead by the IRA has called on the republican movement to explain the circumstances of his death.

Kieran Murray was killed near Pomeroy in Co Tyrone on August 23 1985 - 36 years ago today.

The 22-year-old was making his way to a dance in Cookstown with a friend when an IRA unit opened fire on their Vauxhall Cavalier car near St John's Church at Slate Quarry.

It is believed three weapons were used including a powerful AK47 assault rifle.

The IRA later claimed responsibility and apologised to the family.

In a statement at the time, it said its intended target had been “a member of the crown forces”, believed to be a UDR man, who it claimed travelled from Pomeroy to Cookstown every night.

In a subsequent statement, the IRA said that an “intelligence unit" established that the target vehicle, similar to the one driven by Mr Murray, had left Pomeroy barracks and was observed "taking its normal route towards Cookstown".

However, it added that its unit "lost sight" of the target car "for at least 30 seconds" before "picking up the trail".

As Mr Murray's car approached the ambush point a signal shot was fired to alert those lying in wait.

Noreen Brennan has now called on the republican movement to provide more information about the circumstances of her brother's death.

Kieran Murray was shot dead while travelling in car along Slate Quarry Road, near Pomeroy, County Tyrone, in 1985. Picture by Mal McCann

She also said anyone with information can provide it to her "in the strictest of confidence".

"My question to the republican movement would be to explain how they lost sight of the car at either of the junctions that night," she said.

"To me, I don't know what they would be doing to lose sight.

"The family is thinking that there was no car left the barracks that night, this is our assumption."

Ms Brennan said her family now has "doubts" about the IRA statement made after her brother's death.

"The only people who can tell us what happened that night are the boys who were there on the road that night that fired the shots."

Since Mr Murray’s death, the grieving sister said there has been no contact with the republican movement.

Ms Brennan was also critical of the RUC probe into the death, which the family describes as “a light-touch police investigation”.

A PSNI Historical Enquiries Team report, which the family believe contained mistakes, revealed that forensics, interview notes and unidentified exhibits “have all disappeared”.

Details of the case have been revealed in a family report compiled by Relatives for Justice.

Pat Conway, an advocacy case worker with the group, said “the family are seeking answers to the questions posed in this report”.

“They want and need a proper investigation with the co-operation of all the parties involved,” he said.

“They are still hoping for a process which will enable them to get the full truth of what happened.”

A PSNI spokeswoman said Mr Murray’s case remains open and “sits within Legacy Investigation Branch’s caseload for future review in line with our case sequencing model”.

She added that police "are not in a position to commence the review at this time".

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access

Northern Ireland news