THE family members of Barney
McDonald, a Dungannon taxi driver who was murdered in Donaghmore 17 years ago tomorrow (Wednesday), have issued a new appeal for information.
Mr McDonald was murdered on 17th April, 2002 after being lured out to a bogus taxi call at a snooker club in Annaghbeg Park North, Donaghmore.
As he arrived at the club he reversed his silver coloured Toyota Avensis car, with his Taxi sign light up on top, into the drive way of the snooker club, he blew the horn and waited.
At that point, two gun men approached the him and shot him at point blank range, through the front and side windows of his car. Barney died instantly.
No one has ever been charged with the 51-year-old’s murder, which was described by police at the time as “savage in its brutality”.
Ahead of the 17th anniversary, Mr McDonald's family have issued a fresh appeal for information.
On behalf of the family, his sister Margaret O'Donnell said: “His absence from our lives is as immense today as it was 17 years ago when he was so brutally taken from us.”
The family believes the killing was carried out by criminal elements in the Tyrone area, and was not linked in any way to sectarianism.
“Seventeen years on and we are no closer to the truth about this heinous murder,” the statement read.
“At the time of Barney's murder there were people who said this was a sectarian killing.
“Well, we would like to dispel this rumour.
“This was not a sectarian murder. This was a murder committed by someone who, after the killing, was stood down by the army council of the Provisional IRA.
“He led a mob of gangsters and thugs in Dungannon and the surrounding areas.
“This gang is still involved in criminality and other sordid deeds. These people are known to the PSNI."
The family believes there are people who have information on the murder and told them it was not too late to come forward.
“There are people both north and south of the border who knew prior to this murder that Barney was going to be killed. These were people well-known to him,” added Margaret.
“There are others who may have heard stories relating to this murder in casual conversation which may be of significance to our investigations.
“These are the people we are appealing to today.
“We ask you to do the right thing and give us the information we need to get justice for Barney.
“It's never too late to tell us anything you may know about this abhorrent crime.
“We just want justice for Barney and closure for us as a family.”
PSNI Assistant Chief Constable George Clarke said detectives would act on any fresh information.
He said: “On the anniversary of Barney's murder, our thoughts are with the McDonald family.
“This murder investigation now sits within the caseload of Legacy Investigation Branch (LIB).
“Given the extensive caseload of LIB, I am not in a position to provide any firm timescale as to when this case may be progressed.
“However, I can give assurance to Mr McDonald's family that we will notify them once this happens.
“I would reassure them and the wider community that where credible investigative lines of inquiry are identified, capable of leading to the identification and prosecution of suspects, we will follow them. I would appeal to anyone with any information to contact Police.”