John Boreland murder: Solicitor plea over feud fears

John McBurney has warned of an 'internecine battle' in the wake of John Boreland's murder
John McBurney has warned of an 'internecine battle' in the wake of John Boreland's murder

A solicitor who was part of a panel which recently probed paramilitary activity across Northern Ireland has called on those behind the murder of John Boreland to consider how it could trigger a feud.

Co Down solicitor John McBurney was part of an independent panel set up under the Fresh Start Agreement deal to help with the disbandment of paramilitaries.

In June the panel made 43 proposals, one of which was a new decommissioning scheme to deal with fresh requests from paramilitary groups which want to put their arms beyond use.

On Monday he called on paramilitaries to consider the potential outcome of the murder of UDA member Mr Boreland on Sunday night – regardless of who carried it out.

“I am very anxious that the various paramilitary groups reflect on where all of this could lead no matter who it was carried out this murder,” said Mr McBurney.

“If it was a paramilitary group then they need to draw back from that position which has the likely outcome of an internecine battle.”

He noted that many still within the UDA fold are prepared to “continue a journey to a different place beyond paramilitarism”.

The solicitor added: “This murder has the appearance of a so-called punishment attack, like kneecappings and beatings which have sadly continued all too frequently within our communities.

“The whole idea of disbandment was to see all of this come to an end.

“Lawfulness – the entire community are crying out for this, they want to get out from under the culture of lawlessness in their communities cultivated by those engaged in organised criminal groupings.”

During his work on the independent panel he spoke with many community groups across Northern Ireland who complained of the burden of paramilitarism.

“Now is the time for the community to come forward with information about this murder,” he said.

“Leaders from all across the community, including church and civic society, all need to call for this activity to cease and to plead for the development of a culture of lawfulness in each of the beleaguered communities.”