Belfast Telegraph

Probe after shots are fired over coffin of an INLA man

By Donna Deeney

A police probe has been launched after a gunman fired a volley of shots over the coffin of an INLA man in Londonderry last week.

The city's DUP deputy mayor Gary Middleton said it was worrying to see how easy it had been for a gunman from a proscribed organisation supposedly on ceasefire to produce a weapon.

The shots were fired over the coffin of Billy Browne (59) - a former member of the Official IRA, Provisional IRA and INLA - outside his son's house in the Top of the Hill area last week.

The gunman emerged from within a crowd gathered outside the house in Mountain View in the Waterside and fired three single shots from an automatic weapon.

These were then followed by a burst of up to 20 rounds into the air.

The gunman, who was wearing a scarf over the lower part of his face and a hat, as well as gloves and military-style jumper and trousers, disappeared from the scene within moments.

Councillor Middleton said anyone with information should take it to the police.

He added: "Masked gunmen firing shots over a coffin in the middle of the street, whether it is in daylight or not, is something that most right-thinking people would have imagined were a thing of the past.

"It concerns me greatly that guns of this capability are still on the streets of this city and are in the hands of people from an organisation that not only is supposed to be on ceasefire, but who are also supposed to have decommissioned any weapons they had.

"I have no doubt this would have struck fear into people of both communities in the Waterside.

"This is something that I intend to raise with Chief Inspector Callaghan when our party members meet with him on Wednesday.

"I hope that anyone who witnessed this incident and knows the identity of the individual who fired the shots will pass the information to the PSNI."

A spokesman for the PSNI said: "Chief Inspector Tony Callaghan is aware of the reports (of the shooting incident) and an investigation is under way."

The INLA also fired shots over the coffin of another of its former members, Seamus Coyle, in Derry in 2012, embroiling Environment Minister Mark H Durkan and fellow SDLP MLA Colum Eastwood in a row after they attended the funeral.

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