Jim Allister: Investigate video footage showing shots fired over IRA killer’s coffin

The Funeral of Alex Murphy. 'Pic: Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
The Funeral of Alex Murphy. 'Pic: Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
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TUV leader Jim Allister has called for an investigation after footage emerged of shots apparently being fired over the coffin of a west Belfast republican jailed for his role in one of the most notorious murders of the Troubles.

Alec Murphy, understood to have been aged in his early 60s, died at his Falls Road home on Thursday.

He was one of two men convicted of the brutal murders of corporals David Howes and Derek Woods in Belfast in March 1988 and sentenced to life imprisonment.

He was buried on Monday and later video footage emerged online appearing to show shots being fired by a masked man over his coffin. 
Mr Allister said: “It is incumbent on the PSNI to investigate the footage circulating tonight which appears to show shots being fired over the coffin of convicted IRA terrorist Alex Murphy.

“There are a number of obvious questions. Not least who is the unmasked man standing to the left of the footage? Why is he wearing rubber gloves at a funeral?

“The PSNI need to be seen to taking this matter seriously. There are obvious lines of inquiry which need to followed. Confidence in the police service is already at a low point within the Unionist community. If they are going to recover any of the lost ground there must be prosecutions following today’s events.”

In March 1988 the two corporals, both in their early 20s, had inadvertently straying into the path of a republican funeral cortege.

Thousands of republicans had gathered in the west of the city for the funeral of IRA member Kevin Brady, who had been shot dead three days earlier by loyalist Michael Stone at Milltown cemetery.

The television cameras of media crews from around the world captured the horrific scenes as the Royal Signals pair, dressed in civilian clothes, were dragged from their car, stripped and beaten.

Although the soldiers were armed, they chose to fire a single warning shot into the air rather than engage the unarmed mourners – despite knowing their lives were in mortal danger.

Seemingly resigned to their fate, the they appeared to offer little or no resistance as they were driven to the nearby Casement Park GAA ground/Penny Lane area where they were shot dead.

In 2013, a former RUC officer revealed for the first time how members of a police unit based at Woodbourne station raced to the scene, disobeying a direct order to remain in the station, and apprehended Murphy, along with another man Harry Maguire, as they fled the scene.

Murphy was released from prison in 1998 under the terms of the Belfast Agreement.