Man Arrested Over 1997 Murder Of Gay RUC Constable Released

RUC Constable Darren Bradshaw was shot dead in Belfast's then main gay venue The Parliament Bar by a member of a republican splinter group over 20 years ago.

The Parliament Bar where RUC Constable Bradshaw was murdered

A man who was arrested on Wednesday in relation to the unsolved killing of RUC Constable Darren Bradshaw has been released. The suspect, in his 40s, had been held in custody in Coleraine. A file is currently being prepared for the Public Prosecution Service.

Mr Bradshaw, originally from Shankill, was 24 years-old at the time of his murder. He was shot while in The Parliament Bar, a popular gay venue which he frequented. PSNI Det Insp Debbie Eakin investigating the case described the events, “It was reported at the time that two men entered the premises, and while one stayed in the lobby, the other entered the bar and shot Constable Bradshaw three times. The men escaped in a red Toyota car. Constable Bradshaw died at the scene.”

Republican splinter group, The Irish National Liberation Army had claimed responsibility for Bradshaw’s death. He was the first Royal Ulster Constabulary officer following the 1994 IRA ceasefire.

In an Irish times article at the time, a patron of the club known only as Niall spoke of witnessing the crime, “The shooting happened so quickly. Darren fell against someone who fell at my feet. Somebody dragged his body away. It was a horrible sight.”

He went on to speak of how difficult it was to be a gay RUC constable, “They are forced to live separate lives. The RUC is still conservative so they can’t be gay in the police. It’s dangerous admitting to being a policeman when out socialising so they have to be very careful in their gay life too.”

The issue of gay rights in Northern Ireland is still a pressing one. Thousands of people attended the Love Equality March for Marriage which was held in Belfast last weekend. Northern Ireland as yet has not afforded equal marriage rights to same-sex couples similar to the rest of the UK and the Republic of Ireland.

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