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Murdered men's family seek Ahern meeting over 'collusion'

(Catherine Morrison, Irish News)

The family of two men who were murdered by loyalist paramilitaries in a horrific double shooting 30 years ago is demanding a meeting with Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.

Gerard McErlane's brothers John and Thomas were shot dead in May 1975.

UVF gunmen singled out 29-year-old John and Thomas, who was 19, and shot them in the head as they sat playing cards with their Protestant workmates.

The killers also stole money from the game after the attack at a flat in the loyalist Mount Vernon area of the Shore Road in north Belfast.

Although two men were convicted of the murders, Mr McErlane said he was not satisfied that justice has been done.

"This was a well-organised, premeditated killing. It was in a loyalist area so we need to know if there was collusion. The only time we had a visit from the RUC was the day before the funeral," he said.

Mr McErlane said he felt his family had been ignored and the two murders swept under the carpet.

"I want to highlight the case, and there are hundreds of other stories out there as well that need to be spoken about," he said.

"The murders got 17 to 19 seconds of coverage, nobody came knocking on our door, not the SDLP, not the Irish government and no newspapers."

Last week, Mr McErlane tried to speak to the Taoiseach in Poleglass in west Belfast as he visited a youth initiative programme but Mr Ahern was not available.

"I got ready and went round to try and get a quick word with him.

"I just want to tell him our story.

"I am not satisfied that justice has been done. I know there are people out there who had a hand in my brothers' killings who were never caught. I believe pressure was put on witnesses to retract statements."

In February 1978 a 22-year-old man from Rathcoole in north Belfast, who was already serving an 11-year sentence for a number of armed robberies, was convicted and given life sentences for the killings.

A second man was also given a double life sentence for the killings and that of another man.

An Irish government spokesman said last night (Wednesday) that ministers and officials as well as the Taoiseach frequently met with victims and groups representing victims.

"We would be happy to arrange for officials to discuss any concerns that Mr McErlane wishes to raise," he said.

December 12, 2005

This article appeared first in the December 1, 2005 edition of the Irish News.

This article appears thanks to the Irish News. Subscribe to the Irish News