Northern Ireland news

Murdered man's family voice disappointment over Police Ombudsman delays

Peter Gallagher was shot dead by the UDA/UFF in March 1993
Connla Young

The son of a man shot dead by loyalists 30 years ago has spoken of his family's disappointment over a delayed Police Ombudsman's report into the murder.

Peter Gallagher (44), who was a member of Sinn Féin, was gunned down as he arrived for work in west Belfast on March 24 1993 - 30 years ago on Friday.

Mr Gallagher was killed at the Westlink Enterprise Centre by a gunman who is believed to have escaped on a bicycle which was abandoned near Roden Street.

The father-of-seven was a well-known figure in the village of Toome, Co Antrim, where he lived with his family.

The murder took place a day before 17-year-old Damien Walsh was shot dead by loyalist Johnny Adair's notorious ‘C Company' at the Dairy Farm shopping centre near Twinbrook on the outskirts of west Belfast.

A Police Ombudsman report into the murder later said there were "significant investigative failures" and evidence of "collusive behaviours" by police.

Mr Gallagher was also killed by Adair's UDA unit and it has now emerged that two days earlier, on March 22, an RUC surveillance operation targeting 'C Company' was withdrawn before resuming again on March 30.

The murder of Mr Gallagher is mentioned several times in the Police Ombudsman's report into Damien Walsh.

Despite this, the report into Mr Gallagher's death has yet to be completed.

His son Seamus spoke of his family's disappointment at the slow progress being made by the Police Ombudsman.

"To be honest I am very disappointed, I thought they may have had it finished at the 30th anniversary," he said.

Mr Gallagher urged the Police Ombudsman to complete his father's report before the British government's controversial Legacy Bill becomes law.

"Thirty years may be a long time but for me and all of us it's just like yesterday," he said.

During a recent meeting with relatives and legal representatives Police Ombudsdman officials were asked about any police documents held by MI5 in an archive in England.

Last year former English police chief Jon Boutcher, head of Operation Kenova, which is carrying out several Troubles linked investigations, revealed he had made successful legal challenges to MI5 and was getting fresh information on crimes that had never been seen by previous police heads.

The Irish News asked the Police Ombudsman on whether it has asked MI5 or Operation Kenova if either organisation holds any RUC documents relevant to Peter Gallagher or any other case.

A spokesman for the Police Ombudsman said: "We are continuing to progress the investigation, and while we are committed to being as open as possible about our work, it would not be appropriate to discuss specific enquiries while a case is ongoing."

Operation Kenova was contacted.

Northern Ireland news