The family of a Derry teenager shot dead by British soldiers in July 1972 have urged the British Ministry of Defence (MoD) to co-operate fully with a new inquest into the killing.
Daniel Hegarty was shot dead by a soldier in Creggan during ‘Operation Motorman’, a military action to gain control over parts of Derry.
After a preliminary hearing at Derry Courthouse, a statement on behalf of the Hegarty family was read out to the media.
Karen Brady - a niece of the deceased - said: “We welcome the opening of Daniel’s inquest today. We hope that all participants will co-operate fully in the proceedings. This includes the British Army who have already stated publicly that they would co-operate fully with any properly constituted enquiry into Daniel’s death.”
The statement - on behalf of Daniel Hegarty’s sisters Margaret Brady, Ann (Philomena) Conaghan and Catherine Devenney - added: “We now have a responsibility to have placed on public record the full and truthful circumstances of what happened to Daniel.”
The preliminary hearing was told that seven British soldiers may be called to give evidence in the inquest.
The Senior Coroner in the Six Counties, John Lecky - who will sit with a jury at the inquest - says he expects it to get underway early in June of next year.
He added that he would “feel obliged” to ensure the attendance of the soldiers involved and that risk assessments be carried out on any military personnel who seeks anonymity in giving evidence.
Mr Lecky said enquires would be made on whether an “agreement” was made in 1972 between the then RUC Chief Constable and the Royal Military Police that the shooting should not be investigated by police.
“It strikes me that, if the agreement existed, then the [Crown prosecutors] must have known about it,” he said.
Sinn Fein MLA Raymond McCartney has welcomed the move.
“The Hegarty family have campaigned for years with the help of the Pat Finucane Centre to have the truth told about how Daniel was killed during operation Motorman in 1972.
“Daniel, a fifteen year old boy, was shot at close range by British soldiers and the original investigation carried out by the RUC has been totally discredited.
“This inquest is an opportunity not only to uncover the truth of how Daniel was killed but also to allow the Hegarty family closure on the issue.
“The Hegarty family are to be congratulated for their dignified and determined campaign over these past 37 years and people should support them by bringing forward any information that would assist the inquest.”