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Ó Snodaigh seeks clarifications on Fullerton case

13 April, 2005

Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Justice Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD is to seek further clarifications from the Minister for Justice on the issue of the reinvestigation into the murder of Sinn Féin Donegal County Councillor Eddie Fullerton. Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:

"I welcome the Minister‚s reply, particularly in that it makes very clear that the British Government and the PSNI are holding up the process of finding out the truth about collusion in this case, and in that it also leaves open the possibility of a public inquiry.

"However I still need clarification on a number of issues and I will be seeking this from the Minister today.

"The Minister says he will not publish the interim report he has received on the case because it is incomplete due to the outstanding information needed from the British authorities and PSNI. However, he avoids committing to publishing the final report, and we need this commitment from him. The Fullerton family, the people of Buncrana, and the Irish people as a whole deserve to know the truth about the assassination of this elected representative. Question marks also remain over the serious deficiencies in the original Garda investigation, and the public deserve the truth about this also.

"Disturbingly, despite a direct question on the matter it is unclear from the Minister‚s reply whether he has in fact raised this case with the British Government. If he has not, I want a clear commitment from him that he will do so, as the murder of an Irish public representative as a result of British security force collusion with a loyalist death squad is a matter of the utmost seriousness and public importance."ENDS

Questions to Minister and response received are attached:

Questions from Sinn Féin TDs and answer from Minister in relation to Fullerton case

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has raised or will raise the issue of the strong evidence of British security forces collusion in the murder of Donegal County Councillor Eddie Fullerton.

Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will raise with the British authorities the lack of full co-operation from the PSNI in relation to the reinvestigation of the murder of Donegal County Councillor Eddie Fullerton.

Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on whether the murder of an Irish elected representative, Donegal County Councillor Mr. Eddie Fullerton, demands a full public inquiry.

Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on the questions regarding the Garda investigation into the murder of Donegal County Councillor Mr. Eddie Fullerton arising out of the TG4 documentary, Fullerton; including the failure to question suspects and a key witness.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has received a report from the Garda Síochána regarding the re-examination of the Garda investigation into the murder of Donegal County Councillor Eddie Fullerton which was completed in 2004; if not, the reason for the delay; if so, when he intends to publish its contents.

Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. McDowell):

I would first like to state unequivocally my abhorrence at the murder of Mr. Eddie Fullerton, then Sinn Féin councillor on Donegal County Council,

on the morning of 25 May 1991. The attack was callous and cold-blooded, and it also involved the taking hostage of another family in Buncrana. The so-called Ulster Freedom Fighters subsequently claimed responsibility for the murder. Unfortunately, to date, no person has been made amenable for this appalling crime.

In June 2003, solicitors acting on behalf of the family of the late Mr. Fullerton submitted to me what was described as a 'preliminary memorandum' setting out the concerns of the family in relation to the murder and the ensuing investigations and calling for an inquiry into the matter. These concerns had, to some extent, already been raised directly with the Garda Síochána in April 2002.

In any event, I referred the submitted memorandum to the Garda Commissioner. In response, the Commissioner directed the establishment of a review team led by a chief superintendent to conduct a thorough and concise investigation into all matters of concern raised, inter alia, either directly with the Garda authorities or as part of the memorandum submitted by the Fullerton family's solicitors.

The Garda review is drawing to a conclusion. Outstanding matters relate to the awaited results of a mutual assistance request to the British authorities and certain police-to-police enquiries with the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

I am recently in receipt of a report from the Garda authorities on the current, incomplete status of the review. However, no final conclusions can be drawn until such time as replies from the British and Northern Ireland authorities are received, evaluated and acted upon, as appropriate, by the Garda Síochána. Nevertheless, I can state that the Garda review itself was extensive, involving the taking of more than 150 statements and the interview of more than 120 people, including a person characterised by the Fullerton family's solicitors as being a new, key witness.

I do not intend to publish the Garda report which I recently received. However, as soon as all outstanding matters are clarified by the Garda Síochána upon the receipt of responses from the British and Northern Ireland authorities, I have already undertaken to contact the Fullerton family's solicitors with a full response to their concerns, including any action that I deem appropriate or necessary by way of further investigation or inquiry.

I should add that I have no reason to believe - nor have I received any indication - that either the British or Northern Ireland authorities have failed or will fail to co-operate with the requests made of them.

It should be noted that the Garda chief superintendent in charge of the review met the Fullerton family and their solicitors last December to

provide them with and up-to-date briefing on developments with the review."ENDS

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