Police to investigate gun used to fire shots over IRA killer’s coffin
The origins of a firearm used to fire shots over the coffin of IRA man Alex Murphy will form part of the PSNI investigation into the incident - if it is found.
Chief Superintendent Jonathan Roberts made the statement in reply to South Belfast DUP MLA Christopher Stalford, who wrote to the PSNI outlining his concerns over the "paramilitary show of strength" at the funeral.
Police are reviewing footage of the funeral in west Belfast on August 19 for Murphy, who was convicted of killing two corporals in 1988.
The Falls Road property of Murphy was also searched the day after the funeral as a video that was widely circulated on social media showed shots being fired over his open casket.
The 61-year-old received a life sentence along with Hugh Maguire for killing Royal Signals corporals Derek Wood (24) and David Howes (23).
The soldiers were shot dead after being dragged from their car, stripped and beaten by a mob after they strayed into the funeral cortege for IRA man Kevin Brady, one of those killed when loyalist Michael Stone attacked a funeral at Milltown Cemetery.
In a letter to Mr Stalford, Chief Superintendent Roberts said that police had an "evidence-gathering operation" in place for the duration of Murphy's funeral.
He wrote: "The evidence gathered will be discussed with the Public Prosecution Service and police will investigate any offences which may have been committed. An investigation is also under way into the social media footage of shots being fired over what is believed to be Mr Murphy's coffin.
"One property has been searched and other enquiries have been conducted. An appeal for information has been released to the media.
"The investigation includes establishing the identity of the unmasked male in the footage."
Chief Superintendent Roberts added that if the weapon is located, the origins of any illegally held firearms will also form part of the investigation.
Mr Stalford said: "Any display of terrorism, such as shots fired over the coffin of an IRA terrorist, must not and cannot go unchallenged. The evidence is easily on display for all to see and it is important that the police are carrying out a robust investigation into this.
"To stand by and do nothing gives the impression this is a normal way to behave. It isn't. Glorifying someone who committed sick and abhorrent murder, creating mayhem, is wrong.
"It is welcome that the police have carried out searches, called for more information and are investigating social media footage."