BELFAST, Occupied Ireland – Shots were fired outside the wake house of former INLA prisoner Martin McElkerney last night in West Belfast as a gun salute for their fallen comrade.
Six masked men emerged from the wake house, wearing black ties and balaclava, with one man holding a picture of McElkerney and another man armed with an assault rifle.
The INLA member with the assault rifle fired two single shots, followed by a volley, into the air. It was greeted by cheers and applause from onlookers in Ross Street in the Divis area of west Belfast.
The shots were fired shortly after a police helicopter, which had been circling the area, had left.
Earlier, an estimated 30 men with their faces covered stood to attention at either side of the coffin draped in the tricolour as McElkerney’s remains returned home.
Around 50 other men, dressed in white shirts and black ties, also formed up and saluted outside his home.
McElkerney’s funeral will take place on Thursday, leaving his home for Requiem Mass at St Peter’s Cathedral at 11am. West Belfast is mainly Catholic, in most areas over 90%. For many years, the Catholic population expanded to the southwest, but in recent years it has started expanding around the Shankill and into north Belfast. The east of the city is predominantly Protestant, typically 90% or more.
The 57-year-old took his own life in a shooting at the republican plot at Milltown cemetery last week.
The Funeral of Martin McElkerney on the way into his home in west Belfast
— Connla Young (@ConnlaYoung) May 21, 2019
McElkerney was jailed following the death of Kevin Valliday (11), Stephen Bennett (14) and Lance Bombardier Kevin Waller (20) in an INLA bomb at the Divis Flats complex in west Belfast in 1982.
He was later released under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.
The remains of Martin McElkerney return to his home
The Funeral of Martin McElkerneyon the way vinto his home in West Belfast.
Wikipedia on the INLA:
The Irish National Liberation Army (INLA, Irish: Arm Saoirse Náisiúnta na hÉireann) is an Irish republican socialist paramilitary group formed on 10 December 1974, during “the Troubles“. It seeks to remove Northern Ireland from the United Kingdom and create a socialist republic encompassing all of Ireland. It is the paramilitary wing of the Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP).
The INLA was founded by former members of the Official Irish Republican Army who opposed that group’s ceasefire. It was initially known as the “People’s Liberation Army” or “People’s Republican Army”. The INLA waged a paramilitary campaign against the British Army and Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) in Northern Ireland. It was also active to a lesser extent in the Republic of Ireland and Great Britain. High-profile attacks carried out by the INLA include the Droppin Well bombing, the 1994 Shankill Road killings and the assassinations of Airey Neave in 1979 and Billy Wright in 1997. However, it was smaller and less active than the main republican paramilitary group, the Provisional IRA. It was also weakened by feuds and internal tensions. Members of the group used the covernames People’s Liberation Army (PLA), People’s Republican Army (PRA) and Catholic Reaction Force (CRF)  for attacks its volunteers carried out but the INLA didn’t want to claim responsibility for. The INLA became a proscribed group in the United Kingdom on the 3 July 1979 under the 1974 Prevention of Terrorism Act.
After a 24-year armed campaign, the INLA declared a ceasefire on 22 August 1998. In August 1999, it stated that “There is no political or moral argument to justify a resumption of the campaign”. In October 2009, the INLA formally vowed to pursue its aims through peaceful political means and began decommissioning its weapons.
The party supports a “No First Strike” policy, that is allowing people to see the perceived failure of the peace process for themselves without military actions.