LVF leader Wright had plan to kill three priests


LVF leader Billy Wright threatened to kidnap and kill three priests if Orangemen were not allowed to march on the Garvaghy Road at the height of the 1996 Drumcree stand-off, a court heard yesterday.

The plan to abduct three priests from the parochial house in Gilford, Co Armagh, also involved one of Wright's closest associates at the time, Mark "Swinger" Fulton. But the plot was later abandoned and instead a Catholic taxi driver was seized and shot five times in the head to mark Wright's 36th birthday, Belfast Crown Court was told.

The alleged gunman was Clifford McKeown (43), who it is claimed killed Michael McGoldrick, after he was lured to a laneway on the outskirts of Lurgan, Co Armagh. McKeown, from Parkmore in Craigavon, denies the murder. Mr McGoldrick, who was married with a seven-year-old daughter had been working as a part-time driver for a firm in Lurgan. He had just graduated from Queen's University in Belfast.

On the opening day of McKeown's trial, prosecuting barrister Mr Gordon Kerr QC, told the court that he had confessed to the killing in a series of interviews with freelance journalist Nick Martin-Clarke in the summer of 1999 while in custody at Maghaberry Prison, Co Antrim. Mr Kerr said that during one meeting, McKeown asked Mr Clarke to check the relevance of July 7th - the date of the murder.

"He \ told him that the date was Billy Wright's birthday and McGoldrick was Billy Wright's birthday present." Mr Clarke then allegedly asked if "Swinger" Fulton carried out the murder and McKeown replied: "No, you're looking at him." The trial continues.