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Ex-squaddie hits out over review into IRA bomber's shooting

By Deborah McAleese

Published 23/04/2016

Mike Harmson now
Mike Harmson now
Mike Harmson when he was a soldier in Northern Ireland in the 1980s

An ex-soldier has criticised a request from the Attorney General for prosecutors to review a decision not to charge police over the killing of an IRA bomber.

John Larkin asked earlier this week that the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) re-examine the case of Colum Marks, who was shot dead in 1991 during an attempted mortar bomb attack on a police station in Co Down.

The PPS had previously decided against prosecuting RUC members over the death.

Former soldier Mike Harmson, who served here during the 1980s, said the many sacrifices made by the military during the Troubles should be recognised.

Mr Harmson, who recently asked the PSNI to investigate a number of attempts on his life by the IRA while he was serving in the province, added: "Perhaps the PPS and police should concentrate their time and efforts pursuing the real criminals and terrorists still murdering innocent people.

"After an initial investigation into this incident officers were cleared of wrongdoing.

"One has to ask why then has this new review been instigated," he said.

Marks was shot dead by police officers after an IRA unit arrived in Downpatrick to carry out an attack on the town's police station.

It has been claimed he was not armed when RUC officers opened fire.

On Wednesday the DUP raised concerns with David Cameron in the House of Commons about the Attorney General's request for a review.

North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds told Prime Minister's Questions in Westminster that the decision to again investigate "a police officer who bravely stopped an IRA bomber" was a continuing cause of "great concern". He added that "90% of the deaths during the Troubles were caused by the hand of terrorists, yet there was still a much greater level of focus on deaths involving the State".

In response Mr Cameron told the DUP deputy leader that issues surrounding acts carried out in the past "still cause a huge amount of pain and difficulty on all sides of the debate".

The Prime Minister added: "But one of the things we have to hold onto is the fact we have an independent and impartial justice system."

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