New demand for probe into first death of Troubles

The Police Ombudsman has faced calls to launch an investigation into the death of the first person killed in The Troubles.

The call comes exactly 40 years after retired farmer Francie McCloskey from Dungiven died after receiving a blow to the head during an RUC baton charge in his home town.

The 66-year-old bachelor died from his injuries on July 14, 1969.

The Police Ombudsman’s Office has yet to begin a detailed investigation into the circumstances surrounding his death.

Mr McCloskey has no living relatives in Ireland.

However, former neighbours have continued to campaign for his case to be examined by the authorities.

Former family friend Lucy |McCloskey (no relation) urged the |Police Ombudsman’s office to begin an investigation immediately.

She said: “To be honest I’m not surprised they have not started their investigation. I and a lot of other people knew they were not going to make a big effort for him, especially because he has no living relatives to push them on. Because of the passage of time a lot of key witnesses to Francie’s death will have died or be elderly by now.”

Mrs McCloskey said Francie’s violent death 40 years ago had an impact that is felt even today.

She said: “As a young girl when this happened it was a blood-chilling event, that someone we knew had died like this. My blood ran cold at the idea of someone being murdered like this.

“He was such an innocent and kind man and was involved in nothing.

“It is very important to people of my generation and the people who lived around here that Francie receives justice.”

Francie McCloskey died after an Orange Order parade through Dungiven on July 12, 1969, sparking rioting by nationalists that lasted almost two days.

Police were tasked to protect Dungiven Orange hall from a barrage of missiles and petrol bombs hurled by nationalist rioters on the 13th evening. As the night wore on police launched several baton charges from inside the hall in a bid to disperse the rioters.

It was during one of these charges that Mr McCloskey, who was standing in the doorway of a drapery store close to the Orange hall, suffered a fatal head injury.

At an inquest held several days later a pathologist confirmed that Francie suffered a brain haemorrage as a result of a blow to the head.

A spokesman for the Police Ombudsman's Office confirmed it has carried out an “initial review” of Mr McCloskey’s case but it will take at least 12 months for a full investigation to be launched.