Pursuit of justice goes on
Pursuit of justice goes on

The husband of a woman killed by an RUC police plastic bullet nearly 28 years ago has won permission to challenge a decision by British Crown prosecutors not to charge anyone with her murder.

Jim McCabe, whose wife Nora was killed in west Belfast, was granted leave to seek a judicial review in his case against the prosecuting authorities.

The RUC is accused of plotting to pervert the course of justice following Mrs McCabe’s death in July 1981. Lawyers for Mr McCabe said evidence showed that the RUC man who fired the fatal round appeared intent on seriously or fatally wounding the innocent mother-of-three.

As well as contesting decisions by the Director of Public Prosecutions in 1983 not to bring charges for murder or perjury at the subsequent inquest, Mr McCabe is challenging reasons given by prosecutors last year for the failure to prosecute over the death.

A key part of the case centres on footage shot by a Canadian television crew who were in Belfast to cover the hunger strikes when Mrs McCabe was killed.

The North’s Prosecution Service at the time accepted police assertions about general disorder and rioting in the area, a fact disproved by the footage.

It was also stated that prosecutions were not brought because of an RUC claim that two petrol bombers were in the area when Mrs McCabe was shot, a claim for which no evidence exists.

Mr McCabe’s lawyers showed footage in court which proved the RUC depiction of rioting and disorder in the area was false. They also said that the film completely discredited accounts given on oath by five RUC members.

Lawyers for the prosecution service based their opposition to the application on the passage of time and that no new facts had emerged since 1983.

However, Lord Justice Higgins ruled yesterday that it was an appropriate case to grant leave to apply for a judicial review.

With a full hearing expected later this year, Mr McCabe described the judgment as a step closer to obtaining justice.

“I’m pleased we have cleared the first hurdle,” he said outside the court.

“My kids and I have been waiting a long, long time for some form of positive movement in the case.

“It’s just a small step in a long journey we have been on since 1981.”

His lawyer, Fearghal Shiels of Madden & Finucane, pointed out that it was highly unusual for the court to grant leave to apply for judicial review when there had been such a delay in bringing the challenge.

“That’s a reflection of the significant issues and public interest involved in the case,” Mr Shiels said.


Meanwhile, Sinn Féin’s Gerry Adams met the British Direct Ruler Shaun Woodward this week regarding the cases of Pearse Jordan, who was shot dead by the RUC in November 1992, and the families of 11 people from the Ballymurphy area who were massacred by the British Parachute regiment in August 1971.

The meetings were requested by Mr Adams to provide the families with an opportunity to press the British government to remove obstacles placed in the way of truth by its agencies and to establish independent international investigations into the full circumstances of these deaths.

The Ballymurphy families are also seeking an acknowledgement from the British government of the innocence of all those killed and of the injustice suffered by the families.

Speaking after the meeting Mr Adams said the families put compelling arguments in support of their demands.

“Pearse Jordan’s family want the current obstacles being placed in the way of a proper and transparent inquest to be removed,” he said.

Over the last 17 years the family have attended over 130 hearings regarding the inquest, as well as taken their case to the European Court.

They asked the British Secretary of State to ensure that the Coroner and their lawyers receive all of the necessary material which will allow for the inquest to proceed.”

Speaking about the Ballymurphy massacre, Mr Adams said: “In the three days following the introduction of internment in August 1971 11 people were killed by the British Army’s Parachute Regiment in the Ballymurphy area. The British Army’s action was part of a deliberate plan to intimidate the Ballymurphy and nationalist community.

“What all of these families and many others want is the truth.

“They want the cover-ups and obstructions by the British government and its agencies to end.

“I want to commend the families for their extraordinary courage and determination.

“I told the British Secretary of State that there is a responsibility on his government to remove all obstacles to truth for these families and hundreds of others and to establish independent international investigations into the full circumstances of these deaths.”

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