Belfast Telegraph

Fury at funeral gun salute over prisoner's coffin in west Belfast

By Claire Williamson

Calls have been made for a police investigation after shots were fired over the coffin of a prisoner who died when he collapsed in his cell at Maghaberry.

Liam Mulhern from west Belfast was treated at the Co Antrim prison after collapsing last Monday.

The 30-year-old was taken to Craigavon Area Hospital where he died on Thursday afternoon.

Images have appeared on social media which show a masked gunman firing shots over the open coffin as other masked men salute.

It happened in the Lagmore area of Dunmurry, on the outskirts of west Belfast.

The open coffin was draped in a tricolour flag on Sunday night before his funeral took place on Monday.

Investigations are under way into the death of the prisoner, who collapsed in his cell at Maghaberry.

Mulhern had been serving a sentence for armed robbery, but also had dissident republican connections.

It is understood he had a number of health problems.

The PSNI is currently investigating the circumstances of the death.

The Prison Ombudsman has also launched an investigation into the death.

Solicitor Kevin Winters said: "The family need immediate and full disclosure about the circumstances of Liam's collapse, treatment and death while in the care of the Prison Service."

Last night DUP MLA William Humphrey called on the police to take action.

Mr Humphrey, who is a member of the justice committee at Stormont, said: "I'm absolutely appalled by these scenes.

"They are the latest of a number of scenes that we have seen at dissident republican funerals and shows of strength.

"They have no place in this society. They are an attempt, not to commemorate those so-called volunteers who passed away, but to intimidate communities."

He continued: "I would call upon the police to take action around these displays, because those who are behind displays have done nothing but intimidate and hold communities to ransom for years.

"Those who are involved in shows of strength like this are about intimidating people and they have been doing so for years, and it's about letting people know they are in charge."

In June 2014 there were similar calls after pictures emerged of three masked gunmen performing a salute at the funeral of Seamus McLaughlin in Ardoyne.

It is believed that Mr McLaughlin was a member of Oglaigh na hEireann.

Background

In April there was more unionist fury as masked men flanked the coffin of murdered former Continuity IRA leader Tommy Crossan. The coffin was draped in an Irish tricolour with a beret and gloves set on top. The DUP called for police to investigate why masked men were openly parading by the coffin.

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