‘Neighbour set my brother up so IRA could take our farm’

A man whose brother was killed 33 years ago was called on at the last minute to tell his painful story at the Senate Chamber at Stormont.

Mark Rodgers was due to tell the story of how the UFF killed his 28-year-old father (also Mark) in Belfast in 1993, but was unable to attend.

Ken Funston, whose brother was killed by the IRA. during a special EU event in memory of terror victims in the Senate Chamber in Parliament Buildings on Monday. Pic: Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

Ken Funston, whose brother was killed by the IRA. during a special EU event in memory of terror victims in the Senate Chamber in Parliament Buildings on Monday. Pic: Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

Instead Ken Funston of the South East Fermanagh Foundation (SEFF) stepped in to tell the story of how the IRA shot his brother Ronnie on their family farm at Lowery, near Pettigoe in Co Fermanagh in March 1984.

As it turned out, he spoke precisely 33 years to the day since his brother was killed.

After taking a pause to compose his emotions, Mr Funston said: “He was eight years out of the UDR. He only did it for a short time – his life was farming.”

But the reality was the IRA “wanted the farm”.

“He was targeted by a neighbour,” Mr Funston said, explaining that nobody else would have known his brother’s daily movements so intimately and the escape route used by the IRA.

After hearing the gunshots, his mother ran out to see two gunmen running across the fields to the border “cheering”.

In this way the IRA destroyed the trust of Catholics and Protestants in the area, which has still not been fully restored today.

He said the UK is now prepared to open its security force archives but the Irish government is not, risking a distorted rewriting of the past. He cited the lack of Irish government disclosure to the Kingsmills massacre inquest as evidence.

“The British government have thrown their hands up, the Irish government don’t want to know and two groups of terrorists, loyalist and republican, are laughing. They got away with it. How can we move on?” he asked.