Family of Tyrone cabbie Barney McDonald murdered in 2002 make fresh appeal
The family of a Dungannon taxi driver shot dead after answering a bogus callout has issued a new appeal for information.
Barney McDonald was killed after being lured to a snooker club in Donaghmore in 2002.
Two gunmen fired four times into his taxi, killing the 51-year-old.
No one has ever been charged with Mr McDonald's murder, which was described by police at the time as "savage in its brutality".
Ahead of the 17th anniversary on Wednesday, Mr McDonald's family has appealed for information.
His sister Margaret O'Donnell said: "His absence from our lives is as immense today as it was 17 years ago when he was so brutally taken from us."
The family believes the killing was carried out by criminal elements in the Tyrone area, and was not linked in any way to sectarianism.
Mr McDonald was killed on the evening of April 17, 2002.
At approximately 10.50pm he was called to what turned out to be a bogus job at the snooker club in the village.
As he arrived, he parked up in the driveway, blew the horn and waited.
The two gunmen approached him and shot him at point-blank range through the front and side windows of his car. He died instantly.
Relatives said they desperately want answers.
Margaret added: "Seventeen years on and we are no closer to the truth about this heinous murder.
"At the time of Barney's murder there were people who said this was a sectarian killing.
"Well, we would like to dispel this rumour.
"This was not a sectarian murder. This was a murder committed by someone who, after the killing, was stood down by the army council of the Provisional IRA.
"He led a mob of gangsters and thugs in Dungannon and the surrounding areas.
"This gang is still involved in criminality and other sordid deeds. These people are known to the PSNI."
The family believes there are people who have information on the murder.
In a direct appeal to those people, Margaret said it was not too late to come forward.
She added: "There are people both north and south of the border who knew prior to this murder that Barney was going to be killed. These were people well-known to him.
"There are others who may have heard stories relating to this murder in casual conversation which may be of significance to our investigations.
"These are the people we are appealing to today.
"We ask you to do the right thing and give us the information we need to get justice for Barney.
"It's never too late to tell us anything you may know about this abhorrent crime.
"We just want justice for Barney and closure for us as a family."
PSNI Assistant Chief Constable George Clarke said detectives would act on any fresh information.
He said: "On the anniversary of Barney's murder, our thoughts are with the McDonald family.
"This murder investigation now sits within the caseload of Legacy Investigation Branch (LIB).
"Given the extensive caseload of LIB, I am not in a position to provide any firm timescale as to when this case may be progressed.
"However, I can give assurance to Mr McDonald's family that we will notify them once this happens.
"I would reassure them and the wider community that where credible investigative lines of inquiry are identified, capable of leading to the identification and prosecution of suspects, we will follow them. I would appeal to anyone with any information to contact police."