New shoot-to-kill hearings

New hearings are to be held into six deaths at the centre of a Crown force shoot-to-kill policy in the North 25 years ago.

Coroner John Leckey confirmed yesterday that he would begin examining the cases in Belfast next month.

They involve the shooting of the three IRA Volunteers Sean Burns, Gervaise McKerr and Eugene Toman, the INLA Volunteers Peter Grew and Roderick Carroll and innocent Catholic teenager Michael Tighe.

The killings, by a special RUC unit, led to former Greater Manchester Police deputy chief constable John Stalker being brought in to investigate.

His report was never published and demands for a fresh inquiry into the Burns, McKerr and Toman deaths have been resisted.

The IRA men died in a hail of bullets fired into their car near Lurgan, County Armagh, in November 1982.

Peter Madden,lawyer for the three men’s families, said that RUC/PSNI men involved could be brought to give evidence.

“The surviving RUC men responsible for firing more than 100 rounds at the car containing the deceased will now be compellable witnesses at the inquest and shall be cross-examined by the families’ lawyers,” he said.

“The coroner’s verdict can make explicit factual findings pointing towards a conclusion that criminal or civil responsibility exists.”

Mr Leckey’s decision to hold preliminary hearings has reignited demands for full publication of the Stalker dossier.

Mr Stalker also probed events surrounding the shooting of 17-year-old Michael Tighe at a hayshed near Craigavon, Co Armagh, the same month. IRA explosives had been stored there but the victim was not connected to the organisation.

In December 1982 Grew and Carroll were shot dead outside Armagh after being followed across the border by an RUC unit.

Sinn Féin assembly member John O’Dowd called for the release of all the facts.

“It’s 25 years on and the families of these men just want to know the truth,” he said.

“They have also called for the publication of the Stalker report.

“The British government and Hugh Orde can move on if they publish it and people can examine what happened then.

“It will give the same closure to them.

“I certainly hope that no barriers will be placed in the way of John Leckey this time and I urge Hugh Orde not to sanction public immunity certificates as this would not be appropriate.”

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© 2007 Irish Republican News