Homes of former UDR soldiers searched in murder inquiry

 

Dozens of former and serving British soldiers have had their homes searched by police investigating the murder of a nationalist councillor in the North in 1974.

Last month, the police announced that a new investigation was to take placeinto the murder of nationalist councillor Patrick Kelly, who went missing inTrillick, Co Tyrone, 29 years ago.

The 33-year-old's body was found with two 56lb weights strapped to it in LoughEyes in Co Fermanagh three weeks after his disappearance.

Fred Cobain, an Ulster Unionist member of the Policing Board, claimed the searches of homes in the area could put lives at risk.

Mr Cobain said that up to30 people who served in the Ulster Defence Regiment have expressed concern fortheir security after investigating officers visited their homes.

"This kind of heavy-handed and highly visible approach is quite rightlyworrying to a large number of former UDR and still serving RIR members.

"These people are concerned about their security after such searches which Iunderstand are being carried out 'swoop' style."

Police had been under pressure to launch a fresh probe amid claims thatmembers of the security forces colluded in the murder.

Nationalists in the area had claimed illegal mobile UDR checkpoints wereoperating on the night Mr Kelly disappeared.

In January 1999, his family said they had been told that ex-UDR soldierDavid Jordan had broken down and claimed he was present at the murder and namedother soldiers who carried it out.

Mr Jordan has since died.

The family have refused to co-operate with the investigation and have launcheda High Court bid to force the Police Service of Northern Ireland to stand asideand let an outside force probe the killing.

Mr Cobain's comments were echoed by Democratic Unionist Policing Board member SammyWilson, who accused police of not pursuing murders carried out by republicanswith the same zeal.

"This ongoing placation of every complaint from the republican community isfurther evidence that the police are being instructed to pursue investigationsin a political way," he added.

A police spokesman said: "If they have any complaint about the action of thepolice officers concerned then they should take that complaint to theombudsman."