THE murder of two INLA men in Co Louth more than 30 years ago has featured in an RTÉ reconstruction broadcast.
Thomas ‘Ta’ Power (33) and then INLA ‘chief of staff’ John GerardO’Reilly (26) were gunned down as they sat in the Rossnaree Hotel, near Drogheda, in January 1987 by members of the Irish People’s Liberation Organisation (IPLO). The INLA men had been in the hotel to try and settle an internal dispute about the direction of the group and were due to meet other members. However, the potential peace summit ended up in bloodshed when gunmen wearing false beards burst into the hotel and opened fire as their victims drank tea.
Two other men were injured during the ambush including Peter Stewart and Hugh ‘cueball’ Torney, who was himself killed in another feud in 1996. Leading IPLO man Gerard Steenson has been linked to the double killing, although others claim he was not involved.
He and another man were shot dead weeks later in March 1987 by the INLA faction in west Belfast. It is understood that the renewed appeal for information comes after relatives of Power, who was from the Markets area of south Belfast, met gardaí recently.
Campaign group Relatives for Justice recently wrote to the Republic’s Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald and Garda commisioner Nóirín O’Sullivan on behalf of the Power family asking for a review of the case. It is beleived that at that meeting family members learned for the first time that three men were questioned after the ambush but later released. No-one has ever been convicted. Gardaí failed to respond to a series of questions put to them by The Irish News about the case.
A reconstruction of the attack was featured on RTÉ’s Crime Call programme on Monday. The broadcaster declined to release any details of the programme in advance. Mike Ritchie from Relatives for Justice said: “Families who have lost loved ones below the border face a difficult situation because they were not able to benefit from the Historical Enquires Team information and review,” he said. “It’s important that the Garda reviews these cases themselves.”
With many thanks to: The Irish News.