Welcome for McShane inquest verdict

A jury has unanimously found that the British Army was responsible for the death of a former republican prisoner in Derry almost 12 years ago.

Dermot McShane was crushed to death when a British army Saxon vehicle struck a wooden hoarding he was sheltering behind during rioting on July 13th, 1996.

During the disturbances, which were related to the marching season, the RUC fired a thousand plastic bullets in what was described as the worst rioting ever experienced in Derry throughout the conflict.

The driver of the army vehicle and another soldier refused to give evidence to the inquest.

In their findings, the jury said procedures were not followed by the British Crown forces.

“The RUC gave direct orders to military personnel, no top cover was used during the driving of the Saxon. The Saxon did not give a warning to the crowd and the barrier was punched through rather than pushed through.

They added that there was also confusion among RUC officers due to limited planning, team briefings and personnel numbers, but “the military was ultimately in charge of the Saxon involved in the incident”.

After the jury’s unanimous findings, a brother-in-law of Mr McShane, Peter Gillen, said the family were relieved that the hearings had ended and they were happy with the findings.

Offering his condolences to the McShane family, the coroner said the victim had lost his life in particularly terrible circumstances.

The establishment of the “legacy” inquest followed a campaign by human rights organisations in the North to re-open a number of unresolved inquests, regarded until now by the British government as too politically difficult to deal with.

In 2002, the European Court ruled for his widow against the British Ministry of Defence, the former chief constable of the RUC and the British Direct Ruler for negligence and breach of statutory duty.


Meanwhile, PSNI Chief Hugh Orde has launched a legal challenge to try to block Coroner John Leckey from gaining access to the investigation into the police shooting of an unarmed IRA man.

Pearse Jordan was shot dead by an undercover RUC unit as he drove along the Falls Road in west Belfast in November 1992.

Over the last 16 years Mr Jordan’s parents have fought a legal battle to gain access to the police files surrounding their son’s killing.

In 2007 a top British court ordered the PSNI to provide coroners with all relevant police files relating to controversial killings.

As a result Mr John Leckey re-opened the Jordan inquest after an 11-year adjournment.

Last month Mr Leckey ordered the chief constable to hand over the senior investigating officer’s report into the Jordan murder by July 4.

However, Orde has refused to hand over the police investigation report, claiming he was not legally obliged to disclose the files to the coroner as they contain “no primary evidence”.

However, the Jordan family’s legal team insists that the PSNI is legally obliged to hand over the files.

“The investigating officer will be giving evidence to this inquest and he bears ultimate responsibility for the conduct of the RUC investigation, which was strongly criticised by the European Court of Human Rights in 2001 for its lack of independence,” he said

“It purports to be an analysis of the evidence and is the cornerstone upon which a decision was taken by the DPP not to prosecute Sergeant A for murdering Pearse Jordan”.

“The information contained in this report and the process whereby that decision was arrived at could not be more relevant.”

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© 2008 Irish Republican News