New probe after Florida gun-running allegations

JPACEMAKER, BELFAST, 8/9/99:  Collect picture of John Graham, RUC Constable shot dead by the IRA in Lurgan in 1997.

JPACEMAKER, BELFAST, 8/9/99: Collect picture of John Graham, RUC Constable shot dead by the IRA in Lurgan in 1997.

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The PSNI has launched an investigation after allegations that a gun smuggled into Northern Ireland after the IRA ceasefire was used in the murders of two police officers in Lurgan.

A BBC Spotlight programme claimed that a weapon imported from Florida had been used in the murders of RUC Constables David Johnston and John Graham who were shot dead in Lurgan in June 1997, a month before the IRA renewed its ceasefire ahead of the Good Friday Agreement.

Full Time reserve Constable David Andrew Johnston. LM1109-161

Full Time reserve Constable David Andrew Johnston. LM1109-161

The probe follows allegations by a former Florida gunrunner, Mike Logan, that between 1995 and 1999 he smuggled guns to the IRA at the request of top Sinn Fein figure Sean ‘Spike’ Murray.

Murray declined to be interviewed by Spotlight but in a statement said all the accusations were “without foundation”.

The PSNI said in a statement: “PIRA gunrunning from Florida is now subject to reinvestigation which will include an examination of existing evidence together with the examination of any potential new evidence that has come to light in the last few days.”

Upper Bann DUP MP David Simpson said the Spotlight programme raised “huge questions” about why Murray had never been questioned.

“Very specific allegations were made about Sean ‘Spike’ Murray which have been in the possession of security services on both sides of the Atlantic,” he said.

UUP leader Mike Nesbitt said the revelations would have been “devastating for the families of murdered RUC officers Graham and Johnston”, the two officers who Florida gunrunner Mike Logan said Murray told him had been killed with one of the guns.