New Year marks 40th anniversary of horrific sectarian murder

THE early hours of tomorrow mark the 40th anniversary of the brutal murders of Oliver Boyce and Breege Porter who are believed to have been shot and stabbed to death by members of the Londonderry Ulster Defence Association (UDA) in the early hours of New Year’s Day, January 1, 1973, eight months before they had hoped to get married.

The victims’ families believe they were killed by members of UDA A company and C company in Londonderry.

Mr Boyce (aged 25) and Breege Porter (aged 21) were stabbed and shot and dumped in a ditch off the Birdstown Road near Burnfoot

Mr Boyce’s brother Hugh told an Oireachtas sub-committee in 2005 how his brother was a brilliant carpenter who had helped to build both the Drummond Hotel in Ballykelly and the Ballyliffin Hotel.

The victims suffered horrific injuries as the Coroner Dr McGinley said: “During my long years as a coroner, I never thought I would be called upon to investigate a crime of this nature.

“It is also very difficult for any sane man in Donegal, irrespective of his political affiliations, to imagine that there are people within this island who would be capable of committing such a terrible crime.

“This appalling crime has shocked the people of Donegal but they will be more shocked when they receive the account of the injuries received by the deceased couple.”

Hugh Boyce quoted civil rights veteran Ivan Cooper to the committee. Mr Cooper had said: “This young couple from County Donegal lost their lives in a brutal fashion because of the sick society which exists in Northern Ireland. The people responsible are still at large and if possible now should be brought to book.”

Breege Porter’s sister Anne McDermott also gave evidence to the committee.

She was asked by Independent TD Finian McGrath: “Does the broader family agree with the findings of the Barron report that the suspects in this murder were linked to the UDA? That is the UDA A company and C company in Derry. Is that its assessment?”

She replied: “Yes, we agree with that.”

Deputy McGrath continued: “On page 115 of the Barron report, they seem to be positive about the gun found in the possession of one of the suspects. It was a Colt .32 pistol. Does the family agree with that conclusion in the Barron report?”

Mr Boyce replied: “Yes, the guns and knives, and the fingerprints and blood samples.”

Mr McGrath continued: “For the record, in the third last paragraph on page 115 Barron uses the word ‘probable’ regarding the knife found on one individual. Does the family agree with that statement in the report that the knife was probably the one used in the murders?”

Mrs McDermott replied: “Yes, that was the knife involved.”

Both family members agreed that the killings were “blatant sectarian” murders.

Mr McGrath then stated: “The family also believes, as do the Garda in Donegal and many other people that they know the names of the three suspects. I know I have to tread very carefully in this regard.”

Mr Boyce replied: “Yes, that is correct.”