Irish Republican News · November 26, 2016
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: Relief as British admit Manus Deery was innocent
Relief as British admit Manus Deery was innocent

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The family of a teenager shot dead by the British Army more than 40 years ago have spoken of their relief after the British Ministry of Defence accepted his innocence.

Manus Deery was 15 when he was shot dead by troops in the Bogside area of Derry in May 1972.

At a hearing in Belfast’s Royal Courts of Justice, a barrister for the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and PSNI police finally admitted the teen had not been carrying a weapon and that the shooting breached Britain’s own military guidelines.

Helen Deery, who has long campaigned to clear her brother’s name, said: “I am delighted. They have just said what we have been saying for 44 years.”

Manus’s death was among the most controversial of the conflict and is one of a number of legacy-related cases awaiting resolution.

The family has always disputed British Army claims that a soldier in a lookout post on Derry’s walls fired at what was believed to have been a gunman. The Royal Welch Fusilier soldier who fired the fatal shot, Private William Glasgow, was never convicted and has since died.

Ms Deery noted Manus’s birthday fell on Thursday, and it was very important for her that she can “say clearly that he was innocent and the soldier was in breach of the Yellow Card; he acted out of law.”

On Monday, presiding coroner Mr Justice Adrian Colton took final submissions from legal representatives in a fresh inquest and said he planned to deliver a verdict soon.

Fiona Doherty, representing the Deery family, said the death of a child in violent and unexpected circumstances where he was wrongly and publicly labelled a “terrorist” was among worst experiences a family could endure.

She said: “Manus Deery’s family will obviously never forget what happened. It left deep and enduring wounds.”

Outside the court, Helen Deery said she hoped the inquest verdict would shine a light on the truth and bring closure for her family.

“I think the British justice system, especially in Northern Ireland with the conflict, was set up to break its own laws. Hopefully we are turning that corner now where justice and equality will be seen. Hopefully it will be the end. I would love to wake up some day just like everybody else and not have that fight,” she said.

She added: “My whole family is delighted and we are all really emotional.... It’s bitter sweet but I’m relishing the fact the truth has been told.

“It’s been difficult recently being in court. We also had another brother die in the middle of the inquest. It’s a shame he never lived to see today.

“I have the main answers and that’s that he was innocent. When I heard the news, I was very emotional. It’s a great feeling that his innocence has been recognised.

“My brother was called a terrorist for almost 45 years. We knew he wasn’t. He was a beautiful wee boy.

“Every year after he died I dreaded Christmas Eve because I have memories of me and Manus opening other peoples’ presents. His innocence will come back to me again this Christmas Eve.

“The soldier that killed Manus is dead. We are going to speak to our solicitor about prosecutions and where we go from here.”

 

* In a separate development, it is understood that a bullet has been found in the coffin of Daniel Rooney, who was 18 when he was shot by undercover British soldiers in west Belfast in September 1972. He died later in hospital.

His body has been exhumed at Milltown cemetery as part of an investigation into the notorious killer unit, the Military Reaction Force (MRF). In 2013, former MRF members admitted to the BBC’s Panorama programme that as well as “hunting down” IRA members in Belfast, they shot and killed unarmed civilians.

The MRF consisted of about 40 killers handpicked from across the British Army. Plain-clothed soldiers carried out round-the-clock attacks in west Belfast from unmarked cars. One of them described their mission as “to draw out the IRA and to minimise their activities... if they needed shooting, they’d be shot”.

At least ten unarmed civilians - including Daniel Rooney - were shot by the MRF. No post-mortem examination was conducted when Daniel died in 1972.

© 2016 Irish Republican News