Amanda Fullerton, daughter of murdered Donegal Councillor Eddie Fullerton, said she saw her father’s death as part of the whole legacy of the Troubles.
“This is what happened,” she said. “People were absolutely devastated. Lives were destroyed.” Lives are still being destroyed, she said.
“Pensioners are dying brokenhearted for their loved ones who died,” she said. “Hurt doesn’t go away,” she said, adding, “Resolve doesn’t go away.”
Speaking at last Thursday’s seminar, “Collusion: The Search for Truth”, Ms. Fullerton said her family was planning to bring legal action against the state for its failure to adequately investigate Cllr. Fullerton’s murder and for violation of Article 2 of the European Convention of Human Rights.
The Sinn Féin councillor was assassinated in his Buncrana home at about 2am on May 25, 1991, by loyalist paramilitaries who broke into the family home while he lay in bed. Cllr. Fullerton was shot six times.
Ms. Fullerton said the Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman’s Office had concluded their investigation into the family’s complaint and said the report contained new, critical evidence.
“This police ombudsman report will constitute the first real, earnest investigation of integrity into aspects of Eddie Fullerton’s murder, and it was conducted all these years later by the Northern Ireland authorities,” she said.
In 2003, in the absence of what the family considered an adequate gardaí/RUC/PSNI cross-jurisdictional investigation, they formed the Eddie Fullerton Justice Committee and engaged a solicitor, presenting a list of concerns to the Irish Government and the Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman. The Fullerton family has campaigned for a transparent inquiry into Cllr. Fullerton’s murder.
Ms. Fullerton said while the family still believe they are entitled to an inquiry they also feel it is unlikely. Based on that understanding, coupled with the new evidence and intelligence they now have, the family have decided to pursue the legal action.
Ms. Fullerton has worked with the Pat Finucane Centre, which offers support to any family bereaved during the Troubles. In response to a question from Ciaran O’Donnell, deputy editor of the Donegal Democrat Newspapers, who chaired the discussion, she said that as bereaved families seeking truth face obstacles in their search for answers, “your resolve becomes more steadfast and you become more determined”.
“It’s not a question of going away,” she said. “It’s injustice. It’s an atrocity. It’s a crime committed by the state.”
“You just have to expose it,” she said.
The seminar was held at Gallagher’s Hotel in Letterkenny and organised by Abhaile Arís, the Letterkenny-based republican ex-prisoner project. Sinn Féin Cllr. Gerry McMonagle, outreach worker at Abhaile Arís, congratulated the Ballymurphy families and offered the support of Abhaile Arís to the campaigns.
Cllr. McMonagle urged people to support families in their search for truth. He said it was campaigning by family members that led to the inquiries of recent years. “This is where we have to praise the family members who took on the might of the British government and are now taking on the might of the Dublin government in relation to the Dublin and Monaghan bombings,” he said.
The councillor noted that British Prime Minister David Cameron apologised to the family of Pat Finucane in December of 2012 and acknowledged “shocking levels of collusion” in the Belfast solicitor’s murder after a report blamed “agents of the state” for his murder. Still, Cllr. McMonagle said, “Not one member of the intelligence services or policing services has been charged or held to account” in any of the killings where collusion was alleged or proven.
“Unfortunately families are still coming up against barriers and not being told the full truth,” Cllr. McMonagle said.
Sinn Fein Cllr. Diarmaid Doherty said politicians should be helping the campaigns, but added, “The passion is with the families and they’re the people who will get the results”.