33 years of lies

The PSNI has finally admitted to the family of a murdered County Donegal teenager that the UVF was responsible for his death -- after 33 years -- despite the force knowing all along.

The family of 16-year-old Henry Cunningham also learned that the Dublin government did nothing to investigate the murder, despite the repeated pleas of bereaved relatives for information on who carried out the killing.

The Cunninghams spent three decades appealing for the authorities to help answer the questions surrounding Henry’s murder in an ambush while he travelled home in Belfast on August 9 1973.

The Presbyterian family initially suspected that the IRA had murdered Henry and the authorities did not want to discouraged this idea.

Two years ago when the book ‘Lost Lives’ attributed the killing to the UVF, the family approached the Pat Finucane Centre human rights group for help in establishing the truth.

On the eve of the 33rd anniversary of his death, the PSNI Historical Enquiries Team has now told Henry’s family in Carndonagh that the UVF killed him.

His brother Robert, who was in the back seat of the van in which they were travelling, said he was very angry about the agonising 33-year wait for information.

“We found out that the RUC [now PSNI] knew from the 16 August 1973, that it was the UVF,” he said.

“I felt mad to think they knew all that time. My parents died not knowing who was involved. They always had faith in the security services, north and south.”

Mr Cunningham said he suspected those responsible for the gun attack on the southern-registered vehicle were in the pay of the Crown forces.

Paul O’Connor of the Pat Finucane Centre said it was clear that tragically, “the death of Henry Cunningham wasn’t of any importance to the authorities”.


Meanwhile, a Belfast mother of six yesterday blasted the PSNI police after being forced to stand outside her home during a police raid.

Saranne McKee and her six children were ordered to wait outside her New Lodge home, after the PSNI claimed they were looking for a 13-year-old boy they believed was hiding out in her house.

There were appeals for calm following allegations that the PSNI used potentially deadly CS gas on local youths who had gathered nearby.

The angry mother says she was forced to cradle her nine-month-old son Sean Og, who was wearing only a vest, outside her home during the PSNI operation on Sunday.

Mrs McKee also says a number of teenagers in her home were threatened by baton-wielding PSNI officers during the raid.

“They burst into my house through the windows.

“I was upstairs running a bath for the children when they came in.

“Then they ordered us all out of the house.

“They made me and my children stand outside the house while they searched it.

“They said they were looking for a young boy but wouldn’t say who he was.

“They asked me if I could account for everyone in the house and I said I could, but that didn’t matter they put us out anyway.

“I am angry and I have already gone to my solicitor about this.

“I was forced to stand on the street with a child in my arms for almost an hour.

“I’m disgusted.”

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© 2006 Irish Republican News