New inquests for men ‘killed by secret British Army unit’

 

Jonathan Brown
Thursday 25 September 2014 23:49
Inquests into the deaths of Daniel Rooney and Pat McVeigh, during the height of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, could be re-opened
Inquests into the deaths of Daniel Rooney and Pat McVeigh, during the height of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, could be re-opened

Fresh inquests are to be held into the deaths of two men alleged to have been shot dead by members of a secret elite unit of the British Army at the height of the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

Daniel Rooney, 18, and father-of-six Pat McVeigh, 44, were killed in 1972 in separate drive-by attacks said to have been carried out by the Military Reaction Force (MRF) which was subsequently disbanded amid concerns over the use of covert tactics.

Members of the military unit could be compelled to give evidence in public for the first time at the hearings which are to be held following revelations made by the BBC’s Panorama.

The coroner returned open verdicts at the original 1973 inquests where the soldiers who fired the shots were not called to give evidence.

Solicitor Padraig O’Muirigh, who represents both families, wrote to Attorney General John Larkin QC calling for the new hearings. Mr Larkin wrote to Mr McVeigh’s family saying his death had not been properly investigated “even by the standards of that time”. He said the programme in which former members of the unit claimed to have shot suspects on sight contained potentially useful new information.

Mr McVeigh’s daughter Patricia told The Irish News: “This inquest will clearly not just benefit our family but will hopefully pave the way for others who also seek truth and justice in similar circumstances, namely those families who have lost loved ones, those injured and those still suffering from the actions of the MRF.”

There was widespread condemnation of the decision by the Police Service of Northern Ireland not to reopen the case following the broadcast of Britain’s Secret Terror Force last year. It identified 10 unarmed civilians allegedly shot dead by the unit. A new police investigation was launched after the family threatened to take the matter to the High Court.

Patrick Corrigan, Northern Ireland programme director of Amnesty International, welcomed the move which he said would “shed new light on this murky episode from the past”. He said it was also vital that a thorough police investigation into events in Belfast in the early 1970s is carried out.

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