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Loyalist murderer launches art exhibition while on temporary release - victims' relatives not impressed

Michael Stone is coming to the end of a 30-year sentence for murdering six people. He is no stranger to the world of ‘performance art’.

2 (l to r) Robin Stewart from the Reach Project, Michael Stone, his wife Karen Stone, George Dorrian, Sammy Douglas Source: Reach Project

LOYALIST GUNMAN AND convicted murderer Michael Stone opened an art exhibition in Belfast last month while on temporary day release.

Stone, who has been convicted of killing six people and is currently approaching the end of a 30-year jail sentence, opened the two-day exhibition along with his wife on 9 July at the Reach Project in the east of the city.

The exhibition, entitled Milestones, was held in aid of charity according to Reach (which describes itself as a non-judgemental organisation aimed at delivering on the hopes of the PUL – Protestant Unionist Loyalist – community), with all proceeds going to sufferers of muscular dystrophy.

1 Some of the artwork on display Source: Reach Project

The opening of the exhibition was also attended by a number of high-profile unionists  -including the grand secretary of the Orange Order Mervyn Gibson, former DUP representative Sammy Douglas, and DUP councillor George Dorrian.

Stone infamously murdered three people when single-handedly attacking a Republican funeral in 1988. However, he also killed three others and was accused of plotting the murder of many more.

Victims

One of Stone’s victims was 37-year-old bread-server Dermot Hackett, shot dead in his van by Stone in May 1987, whose brother Roddy has spoken out against the prison authorities for not informing his family that Stone had been released.

Northern Ireland assembly meeting Stone being restrained during his 'performance art' storming of the Stormont Assembly in 2006 Source: PA Archive/PA Images

Such day releases are common as long-term prisoners come to the end of their sentences – Stone is entitled to one such day every four weeks.

The Northern prison service meanwhile expects affected people to register for a specific scheme before they will receive information regarding temporary releases.

“We should have been notified,” Roddy Hackett told the BBC.

Source: Protestant Irish Republican/YouTube

“I would hate to think that some of my immediate family happened to walk up the street in Belfast and see him walking towards them,” he said.

I think it would be an awful shock for them, especially Dermot’s family. It is only right that they should have let us know.

Stone is no stranger to haphazard, ‘artistic’ behaviour. In 2006 he stormed the Northern Assembly at Stormont armed with knives, a gun, and several explosive devices.

He subsequently claimed that the act had been ‘performance art’. That argument failed to stop him from being returned to prison after he was initially freed under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

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