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Tuesday, 30 October, 2001, 18:10 GMT
Republicans blamed for 'brutal' murder
Police officers search for clues
Victim was shot outside girlfriend's home
The police have said they believe republican paramilitaries murdered a Protestant man outside the County Tyrone home of his Catholic girlfriend.

Two masked gunmen opened fire on Charles Folliard, 30, in Strabane at about 2330 GMT on Monday, as he left the Oakland Park home of his 16-year-old girlfriend.

Mr Folliard, from Douglas Bridge near Strabane, who was shot in the head and leg, had loyalist paramilitary connections.

He was taken to Altnagelvin hospital in Londonderry but died a short time later.

Mr Folliard was jailed for 14 years in 1991 for conspiracy to murder a Catholic colleague at the quarry where he worked and for possessing firearms.

'Brutal execution'

It is understood he helped set up the colleague for a planned UDA booby-trap bomb, but then backed out of the plan and alerted the authorities. He was released in 1997.

However, his family said he was no longer a member of any loyalist paramilitary group. They pointed out that he did not serve his sentence on the UDA wing in prison.

The family's minister, Reverend David Reid, said they had pleaded for no retaliation following the murder.

"They do not want another family to have to endure the suffering which they are going through at the present time," he said.

The minister said as far as he was aware the victim had cut all his ties with paramilitaries and was trying to rebuild his life.

Superintendent Clifford Best:
Supt Clifford Best: "This was a brutal execution"
The police commander for Strabane, Superintendent Clifford Best said it was a "cold and brutal execution of a man in front of his girlfriend".

He said at this stage it appeared republicans were responsible.

"We believe paramilitaries were behind this murder and we are confident that republican terrorists were involved.

"A sectarian motive is one of the avenues we are looking at.

"This was a Protestant shot dead leaving his girlfriend's home. She is a Catholic. But it is too early to definitively state the motive behind this attack."

'Cessation intact'

Sinn Fein MP for West Tyrone Pat Doherty said he was "sure" the IRA had not carried out the murder and said he believed it was carried out by elements opposed to the IRA's move last week on disarming.

Speaking on BBC Radio Ulster, he said: "I am confident the IRA cessation remains intact.

UUP assembly member
Derek Hussey: "Shocking murder"
"Whoever carried it out were enemies of the peace process and the current developments."

Ulster Unionist assembly member Derek Hussey said it was a shocking murder after the decision by republicans to make a first move on disarming last week.

"There is a suspicion that it has been carried out by republicans, so it seems there is some concern that republicans are having difficulty with the developments that have taken place politically."

SDLP West Tyrone assembly member Eugene McMenamin said it was a "senseless killing".

"One would have thought with decommissioning happening last weekend this would cease, but unfortunately it hasn't."
Eugene McMenamin:
Eugene McMenamin: "Senseless killing"

Mr McMenamin also said the family of the victim's girlfriend was devastated.

"They said he would have done anything for them."

Northern Ireland Security Minister Jane Kennedy said those responsible for the murder were "cold blooded murderers".

"Yet another family has been left devastated by these callous gunmen, who bring nothing but heartbreak and misery to the people of Northern Ireland," she said.

'Remove the guns'

DUP councillor Thomas Kerrigan said the murder asked the questioned: "Is the war over, or are terrorists still lurking in the highways and by-ways, seeking out their prey?

"I would ask the secretary of state to give the security forces the power to go into these areas and remove the guns from the equation."

The Catholic auxiliary bishop of Derry, Dr Francis Lagan, said people in the nationalist community would be very angry at what had happened.

"It was certainly not done in their name or with their approval," he said.

"They would want people in the Protestant community who are their neighbours to know that.

"They want to be friends with them and to live in friendship with them," he said.

BBC NI's Keiron Tourish reports from Strabane:
"The victim was gunned down outside his girlfriend's home"
Ulster Unionist assembly member Derek Hussey:
"It seems some republicans are having difficulty with developments politically"
SDLP assembly member Eugene McMenamin:
"One would have thought with decommissioning having started last weekend this would have ended"
See also:

30 Oct 01 | Northern Ireland
Man 'executed' at girlfriend's house
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