Man arrested over 1997 Darren Bradshaw murder is released

Officer was shot dead at gay venue the Parliament bar on May 9th, 1997, when aged 24

The Irish National Liberation Army  claimed responsibility for the murder of  RUC officer Darren Bradshaw at the Parliament bar on Dunbar Street, Belfast (above). File photograph:  Google Street View

The Irish National Liberation Army claimed responsibility for the murder of RUC officer Darren Bradshaw at the Parliament bar on Dunbar Street, Belfast (above). File photograph: Google Street View

 

A man arrested in Belfast early Wednesday in relation to the murder of RUC Constable Darren Bradshaw in Belfast in 1997 has been released.

A file is being prepared for the Public Prosecution Service.

A police statement said the man in his 40s was arrested on Wednesday morning. The suspect is being held in Coleraine. Mr Bradshaw’s family has been informed, a PSNI statement said.

Mr Bradshaw, originally from the Shankill area of Belfast, had been a regular at the city’s main gay bar, the Parliament. He was shot dead in the bar on May 9th, 1997, when aged 24.

He was the first RUC man murdered after the IRA’s first ceasefire announcement of August 1994. At the time, the police said he was killed in a “well thought out and planned operation”. The IRA denied involvement.

The Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) claimed responsibility for the murder of the off-duty RUC officer.

PSNI Det Insp Debbie Eakin said: “Constable Bradshaw was shot dead in the Parliament bar in the city’s Dunbar Street at 10pm on Friday 9th May, 1997.

“It was reported at the time that two men entered the premises, and while one stayed in the lobby, the other entered the bar and shot Constable Bradshaw three times.

“The men escaped in a red Toyota car. Constable Bradshaw died at the scene.”

Veteran LGBT rights campaigner UUP Cllr Jeff Dudgeon said he hoped police could pursue the matter through the courts.

“I knew people who knew him very well,” he said. “I remember laying flowers for him outside the Parliament bar with the late [Northern Ireland Gay Rights Association president] PA Mag Lochlainn.

“I know people who were in the bar at the time and left very traumatised by what happened.”

Mr Dudgeon said the LGBT community was particularly vulnerable to the paramilitaries at that time “because other targets were off-limits”.

“The other killing from the same era was of Reverend Templeton, a clergyman who was beaten to death by the UVF,” he said.

This murder took place in March 1997 shortly after the Presbyterian minister was “outed” as a gay man in a Sunday newspaper.

“There seemed to be a special interest in the gay community at the time,” said Mr Dudgeon.

“If police have got new evidence on Darren Bradshaw’s murder, hopefully they can pursue a conviction.”