Belfast Telegraph

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Truth behind guns is stranger than fiction

Editor's viewpoint

Published 11/05/2016

Loyalist gunman Michael Stone attacks mourners at an IRA funeral in Milltown cemetry in March 1988
Loyalist gunman Michael Stone attacks mourners at an IRA funeral in Milltown cemetry in March 1988

The tale of the two guns reported in this newspaper today could not have been made up by even the most fevered imagination of a best-selling thriller writer. Yet every part of it is true.

Those two weapons are seen in some of the most well-known - and disturbing - images of the Troubles.

One is a police-issue Ruger pistol used by loyalist Michael Stone in his infamous attack on mourners at the funerals at Milltown Cemetery of the IRA team shot dead in Gibraltar.

The other is a Browning pistol seen being waved by one of the two corporals who strayed into the path of the funerals of those killed by Stone and who were dragged from their car, beaten, stripped and shot dead.

Both guns were held onto by the IRA and used to kill again, one victim being policeman John Larmour, who was helping out at his brother's ice-cream parlour in Belfast.

His sibling George reveals the astonishing history of the two guns in a new book.

He found out the details through dogged determination to get some justice for his murdered loved one.

He pestered the Historical Enquiries Team for information, and even got to see the gun that killed his brother.

What he still has not got is justice. In that respect he is like thousands of other people bereaved by the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

As the new Assembly meets at Stormont and the main parties discuss a Programme for Government, they need to be reminded again that the legacy of the past still haunts so many people today.

They are people just like George Larmour, who wants to see his brother's killers identified, possibly prosecuted and given a token jail sentence.

Others just want to know who murdered their loved ones and why.

These may be uncomfortable questions for many - obviously for the paramilitaries who carried out the attacks, but also for those who controlled the gunmen from the shadows.

The Fresh Start Agreement, over which the politicians make such great play, needs to be implemented in full, which includes setting up truth recovery mechanisms.

But institutions are useless unless all the political parties give their full backing to shining a light into our sordid past and to enabling thousands of people to gain some very belated closure to events which have blighted their lives for decades.

Few have ever got as many answers as George Larmour.

Belfast Telegraph

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