Assembly Candidate Arrested Over 1981 Murder Attempt

A candidate in the Northern Ireland Assembly elections is being questioned about the attempted murder of a UDR man over 25 years ago. Gerry McGeough, 46, an independent republican and former IRA prisoner was arrested yesterday in a town centre car park in Omagh, Co Tyrone.

Mr McGeough, a Sinn Fein defector and vocal critic of the party, polled 814 votes in the Fermanagh South Tyrone constituency on an anti-policing ticket. He was about to leave the count centre at Omagh Leisure Centre when police arrested him in the car park.

The PSNI said the operation was part of an investigation into “serious terrorist crime”.

Within the hour, the husband of Sinn Fein councillor Brenda McAnispie had been arrested in Aughnacloy. According to police 44-year-old Vincent McAnispie was also arrested in connection with alleged terrorist offences.

Mr McGeough, a 46-year-old former hunger striker and vehement pro-life activist, and Mr McAnispie whose brother Aidan was shot dead by security forces, were being held at the Serious Crime Suite in Antrim last night.

In a further dramatic twist the former UDR man who was the victim of the 1981 shooting that Mr McGeough is being questioned about, was also at the count centre in Omagh.

Sammy Brush who is now a DUP councilor in Ballygawley was shot several times in the attack and said last night: “I’ve thought about it every day since.”

Addressing the media in Omagh, Sinn Fein MP for Fermanagh, South Tyrone, Michelle Gildernew and Monaghan Sinn Fein councilor Brenda McAnispie described the arrests as “a disgraceful stunt.”

“Two of my constituents were arrested this evening,” said Ms Gildernew: “One of them being Gerry McGeough, a candidate in this election was arrested leaving the count here this evening. Gerry has been living openly in this constituency for some time, he’s a neighbour of mine, we live in the same townland and he could have been arrested at any time.

“I believe this is a stunt and it is an example of political policing and Gerry should be released immediately. Another constituent of mine was arrested in Aughnacloy, his house was raided, his sister was assaulted and on the warrant it said he was a dissident republican, which is absolutely not true. He is an active member of this party.

“This is one of the worst examples of political policing and the reason why we have to get rid of the people that are involved in creating this kind of mayhem on the day of an election.”

Brenda McAnispie told reporters that her six children were traumatised by the afternoon’s events at the family home and added: “I would like to congratulate the thousands of Sinn Fein supporters who came out today to vote for the party to end that type of policing.”

The PSNI commented that they had been aware of Mr McGeough’s whereabouts for some time and had “acted as soon as was operationally possible.”