Two men arrested in connection with murder of RUC officer in 1975

2024-06-18 HaiPress

Robert John McPherson was gunned down in front of shoppers in Londonderry


Two men in their seventies have been arrested in connection with the murder of an RUC officer nearly 50 years ago.

Pc Robert John McPherson was gunned down in front of shoppers while responding to a report of suspicious activity at a post office in Dungiven,Co Londonderry,on July 26 1975. His fellow officer was hit several times but survived.

The Irish National Liberation Army claimed responsibility for the death of the constable,who came from Leck in Co Londonderry.

On Wednesday,police in the Republic of Ireland arrested two men,aged 73 and 72,in Co Meath and Co Donegal.

The 72-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of murder. The 73-year-old was detained for firearms offences linked to McPherson’s death and the attempted murder of a second officer in Dungiven on July 26 1975.

Detectives from the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) also arrested a 71-year-old man in Dungiven in the joint operation. He was charged with firearm and explosive offences dating back to 1976.

Appearing at Londonderry magistrates’ court after his early morning arrest on Wednesday,Joseph Gerard Kelly,71 was charged with possessing two electronic detonators and two pressure mats with intent to endanger life on Feb 16,1976 and with possessing the items in suspicious circumstances.

He was charged with owning two Walther pistols,a .22 rifle,a Browning pistol,and a Remington shotgun and ammunition with intent to endanger life on the same date and with possessing the items in suspicious circumstances.

Seamus Quigley,defending,told the district judge Barney McElholm that his client had been “living openly at his home for the past 20 years” as he applied for bail.

Bail conditions were agreed and included the defendant surrendering his passport and reporting once a week to a police station. The case was adjourned until July 10.

Legacy Act

The PSNI said it had worked closely with police in the Republic of Ireland and that the arrests on Wednesday showed “the benefits of joint working between police services and other national partner agencies”.

The Public Prosecution Service took the decision to prosecute the three men before the May 1 deadline for the start of the Northern Ireland (Legacy and Reconciliation) Act.

The Legacy Act halted any new criminal trials and inquiries into Troubles-era crimes and replaced it with an independent commission in an effective amnesty.

However,the new system has faced widespread criticism on both sides of the border on the island of Ireland,with many accusing the UK Government of using it to cover up crimes committed by British forces.

The Irish government has taken the UK Government to the European Court of Human Rights over the Legacy Act in a rare interstate challenge.

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