Call for investigation into Gilford shooting

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The murder of two Catholic men widely attributed to the loyalist gang responsible for the Miami Showband massacre may in fact have been carried out by the IRA, a new report has revealed.

James ‘Jimmy’ Marks of Portadown was driving eight passengers home from bingo in Banbridge a day after the Showband massacre, when his red and white Ford Custom minibus was ambushed near Gilford at 11.20pm on Friday, August 1,1975.

The father of two young boys was shot in the head and back and died from the injuries over five months later in Craigavon Area Hospital.

Pensioner James Joseph Toland, from Bleary died instantly, and three female passengers suffered gunshot wounds.

Although the attack was blamed on the UVF, Mr Marks’s family have revealed that a Historical Enquiries Team report has linked a rifle used in Mr Mark’s murder to the IRA killing of two female UDR members, while a second weapon was found in the possession of two IRA men in Lurgan in 1979.

The relatives are calling for a ‘dedicated investigation’ to establish if he was shot by the IRA in an attack planned for an RUC vehicle.

They also want to know if the RUC knew an attack was being planned by republicans but refused to act.

In the aftermath of the Gilford shootings the RUC were following a theory that the ambush had indeed been carried out by the IRA in revenge for the Miami killings, but that they had mistaken Mr Marks’s vehicle for an RUC minibus.

Eleven suspects, all Catholic were arrested during the investigation, however the IRA denied any involvement.

Attention then turned to loyalist elements responsible for the Showband massacre. It seemed plausible that the UVF members known to belong to the notorious Glenanne gang - a covert alliance of loyalist militants, rogue police officers and soldiers - had also carried out the Gilford shootings.

“We think it was republicans and the minibus was mistaken for the police,” said Mr Marks’s niece Martina.

The HET report went on to reveal serious flaws in the RUC investigation, which Ms Marks described as ‘very shabby’.