IRA admits 'accidental' killing of tourist

THE IRA last night admitted killing Catherine Leyland, who was shot dead last Friday while visiting her sick mother in Belfast, writes Dean Nelson.

In a statement to a local radio station, the IRA said the shooting had been a tragic accident. 'The Belfast Brigade of the IRA deeply regret the tragic death of Mrs Isobel Leyland during an operation in Ardoyne yesterday,' the statement said. Mrs Leyland was known as Isobel to her family.

'One of our volunteers fired four rounds at a British soldier standing in the back of a Land Rover. Tragically Mrs Leyland and Jimmy Clark were struck by a number of these rounds.'

'The IRA extends its deepest sympathy to the Leyland and Bradley families (Mrs Leyland's maiden name was Bradley) and hopes for a speedy recovery for Mr Clark.'

No members of the patrol attacked were injured, and the security forces did not return fire. Mr Clark is recovering in hospital.

Mrs Leyland, 41, was visiting Belfast to care for her sick mother. She was with her eight-year- old niece when she was was killed, hours before she was due to return to her family in Rochdale, Greater Manchester.

Her husband Brian and her children, John, 21, Gerard, 19, Catherine, 15, and Rebecca, 12, flew to Belfast yesterday to make arrangements for her funeral.

This is the second time her family has been caught in the crossfire of Northern Ireland's troubles. Her 17 year-old brother, Francis, was killed in a bomb explosion in 1975.