Campbell demands probe after shots fired over coffin in Londonderry

The coffin of Peggy O'Hara flanked by masked female members of the INLA in Londonderry
The coffin of Peggy O'Hara flanked by masked female members of the INLA in Londonderry

The firing of shots over the coffin of a hunger striker’s mother in Londonderry must be fully investigated, the area’s MP has said.

Gregory Campbell was responding to images of a masked gunman, along with other members of the INLA, outside the Templegrove home of Peggy O’Hara who died on Monday morning.

The 84-year-old was the mother of INLA man Patsy O’Hara who died in the Maze prison in 1981.

On Wednesday night, as her remains were brought home from a local funeral director’s, three masked men dressed in paramilitary-style clothing lined up alongside her Irish tricolour and Starry Plough-draped coffin.

One armed with a rifle fired three shots before they moved off to the applause of the small crowd that had gathered.

Mr Campbell said the various statutory agencies should take action.

“I condemn those who glorify terrorism whether it’s parading in Castlederg or firing a volley of shots over a coffin in Londonderry. All terrorism is wrong and always was wrong.

“Terrorism in this country has only served to destroy lives and ruin homes. The council in Londonderry and Strabane, the police, and the Northern Ireland Ombudsman need to fully investigate this matter.

“A councillor was in attendance at this event where masked men fired a volley of shots. His presence, and support for the event, need to be investigated alongside the code of conduct for councillors as well as the pledge he took before taking up office.”

The DUP MP referred to the “anti-terrorism declaration” signed by all councillors and said: “Being elected does not immunise anyone from prosecution.”

Mr Campbell added: “The onus is now on the police to ensure that proper evidence gathering is in place for the funeral to ensure that if there is a similar act at it it can lead to prosecutions.”

Independent councillor Gary Donnelly confirmed that he attended and witnessed the volley of shots being fired.

“I went to pay respects to a woman who watched her son slowly starve to death and then go on to campaign tirelessly for prisoner rights.

“I understand completely that some people will oppose it, but then there was a 21-gun salute fired for mark the birth of the Royal princess. There is a lot of hypocrisy going on here. Perhaps Gregory Campbell should ask for investigations into councillors who have voiced support for UVF flags?”

A PSNI spokesman said they were aware of the reports and that “inquiries into this incident are ongoing”.