Donegal murder - ‘more will face justice’

Declan Magee and Dia


Declan Magee and Dia

The family of a man murdered by dissident republicans in Donegal four years ago say they are confident that more people will be brought to justice.

The family of a man murdered by dissident republicans in Donegal four years ago say they are confident that more people will be brought to justice.

Andrew Burns’ family were speaking after a 37-year-old Strabane man was sentenced to life for the murder of the 27-year-old at Doneyloop in February 2008.

Martin Kelly of Barrack St, Strabane, Co Tyrone was handed the sentence at the Special Criminal Court on Tuesday after being convicted last month.

Speaking to the Donegal Democrat, Andrew’s sister Michelle Coyle said: “Really at the end of the day there is going to be no sentence that is going to bring anybody back. We have a great deal of sympathy for Mr. Kelly’s family who are victims in this as well. We would also like to thank everyone who helped - all the people involved in getting as far as we have got, the gardaí and the PSNI. This brings a little bit of closure. We are confident that there will be more convictions and it is just a matter of having to go through that again.”

Mr Burns was shot twice in the back by a gunman linked to the dissident republican group, Oglaigh na hEireann. Kelly (37 was also found guilty of the unlawful possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life on the same date.

Kelly’s trial began in early October last year but after two days of evidence the court started a “trial within a trial” to decide on the admissibility of statements made by Kelly while in garda custody in Letterkenny and a statement made by Kelly to two senior garda at a hotel in Northern Ireland.

Gardaí believe that at least two others were involved in the murder and details of the involvement of unnamed men were heard during the trial. Letterkenny superintendent Vincent O’Brien said that both Kelly and Mr Burns were associated with the dissident group, Oglaigh na hEireann. The superintendent said that Kelly had named his accomplices during an interview with gardaí.

In court he agreed with defence counsel Mr Giollaoisa O’ Lideadha that because of this there was “ a very real, exceptional, dangerous threat to his life” and that he would probably have to be exiled from his family and home when eventually released from prison.

The superintendent said that the garda investigation into the murder was still continuing with the assistance of the PSNI. He said that to date five people had been arrested in connection with the murder.

Mr Justice Paul Butler, presiding at the non jury court with Judge Alison Lindsay and Judge Cormac Dunne, said that the court had no discretion with regard to the murder conviction and it sentenced him to life imprisonment.

The judge said the court sentenced Kelly to eight years for the firearms offence, and it ordered both sentences to run concurrently and to date from the time Kelly was taken into custody on March 16th, 2010.

Read more in today’s Donegal Democrat.