Sister questions if murdered RUC men were used as ‘pawns’

David Andrew Johnston (30) RUC man killed in double murder in Lurgan. 16/6/97.
David Andrew Johnston (30) RUC man killed in double murder in Lurgan. 16/6/97.

The sister of a police officer allegedly murdered with a gun imported to Northern Ireland after the IRA ceasefire by a senior Sinn Fein figure has said that she fears her brother was used as “a pawn”.

Celine Clarke, whose brother David Johnston was murdered while on patrol in Lurgan with John Graham in 1997, spoke after a BBC Spotlight revelation broadcast on Tuesday night carried allegations from a Florida gun-runner that he had started smuggling guns to the Province in 1995 at the request of Sean ‘Spike’ Murray.

The US smuggler, Mike Logan, has been granted immunity from prosecution by the US authorities.

He claimed that at one point Murray told him that one of the handguns had been used to kill the two Lurgan RUC officers.

Murray, who was one of Sinn Fein’s negotiators in the recent Haass talks, has denied the allegations.

The PSNI initially declined to comment on the Spotlight allegations but is now investigating the issue.

Yesterday Ms Clarke said that the family had raised with the Historical Enquiries Team (HET) questions about the weapons used to murder the two officers. She said the family had asked whether the guns had been used before and whether there was any other evidence from the weapons.

She said that the HET had said it could not discuss “certain things” as it was a live case.

Ms Clarke told BBC Radio Ulster’s Good Morning Ulster programme: “Did they know something that they couldn’t say at that time because yes, it would maybe have upset a lot of people?

“Or did they not know either? What was actually happening?”

She added: “Were they used as a pawn ...I wouldn’t like to think so but if they did, they were using two police officers ... that wasn’t just that police officer that died that day; that was my mate; that was not just a brother but a friend.”