Stewartstown murder victim family hope for inquest answers

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The family of a murdered Stewartstown father-of-three are still hoping for answers on the 19th anniversary of his death this Christmas.

Seamus Dillon, 45, was gunned down outside the Glengannon Hotel in Dungannon by the Loyalist Volunteer Force in December 1997. The shooting of the doorman, just hours after LVF leader Billy Wright was killed inside the Maze prison, was viewed as a revenge strike by the loyalist’s associates.

However, the family have had to endure repeated delays to an inquest into his murder, and his case is still locked in the coronial system.

His widow, Martina said Seamus was a great husband and friend, and a loving and dedicated father.

Mark Mulholland QC, representing the Dillon family, said the case, which was last heard in January, clearly involved allegations of state collusion.

At the hearing, Lord Justice Weir said a claim that a senior police officer warned some businesses in Dungannon of an imminent attack, but not the proprietor of the now-closed Glengannon, would be explored when the inquest was eventually listed.

The review hearing was also told that letters sent to a number of people originally considered suspects in the shooting, asking them to co-operate with the inquest, had been met with negative responses.

Justice Weir is conducting an intensive review exercise of 56 long-delayed cases, covering 95 deaths.

The stalled inquests include killings carried out by both paramilitaries and security forces - many involve claims of collusion or state wrongdoing.

The judge expressed frustration that many inquests had been previously listed for full hearing only to suffer postponement after postponement.

A barrister representing the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) told a preliminary inquest that forensic tests had been carried out on the weapon used in the loyalist shooting, ascertaining that it had been used to carry out other killings.