IRA ‘behind killing’ of Catholic man (42)

Jimmy Marks. Pic by Edward Byrne Photography.
Jimmy Marks. Pic by Edward Byrne Photography.
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The killing of a Portadown man blamed on the loyalist killers of the Miami Showband members was probably carried out by the IRA, it has been claimed.

The family of Jimmy Marks (42), who died along with another man in the gun attack 40 years ago, say he was shot by the IRA in an attack meant for an RUC vehicle the day after the Miami Showband massacre.

The Catholic father-of-two was driving eight passengers home from bingo in Banbridge when his red and white Ford Custom minibus was ambushed near Gilford at 11.20pm on Friday, August 1 1975.

Pensioner, James Joseph Toland (78), from Bleary, died instantly after being shot in the head. Three female passengers suffered gunshot wounds that left them seriously injured.

Mr Marks was critically hurt after being shot in the head and back. Despite extensive brain and spinal injuries, he survived for almost 160 days before dying at Craigavon Area Hospital on January 7, 1976.

The family of Mr Marks have now revealed that a Historical Enquiries Team (HET) report points the finger at the IRA.

In 2011, the HET concluded a report into Mr Marks’s murder, revealing to the family for the first time ballistics records which showed that a rifle used in Mr Marks’ murder was linked 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 HET report also exposed serious shortcomings in the RUC inquiry. Martina Marks, whose elderly father Michael has lobbied for years to uncover the truth behind his brother’s murder, says the family now wants a “properly resourced” investigation into the attack.

She told The Irish News that the family had been left in a “kind of limbo” by the authorities. Ms Marks criticised the RUC probe as “very shabby,” saying relatives were beginning to question whether police had prior knowledge of the IRA’s plans.

“We’re starting to think that an informer was involved and that the RUC knew what was happening,” she said, questioning why the RUC minibus had left Gilford early and why it took weeks for the investigation to get off the ground.

“We think it was republicans [who carried out the ambush] and that the minibus was mistaken for the police,” she said.

An HET spokesperson said, “HET worked with families on a confidential basis and at the conclusion of the review process, provided bespoke reports detailing findings to the families who engaged. Out of respect for the privacy of the families involved, we do not publicly discuss or comment on the specifics of individual cases or reports provided to families.”