Controversial inquests delayed again
Controversial inquests delayed again


Relatives of three IRA Volunteers shot dead by the SAS have expressed frustration after being told it will be another year before a full inquest is heard.

The three men were targeted in in June 1991 when British troops opened fire on a stolen car.

The car in which Peter Ryan, Lawrence McNally and Tony Doris, all from County Tyrone, were travelling burst into flames in the village of Coagh, having been hit by around 200 bullets.

But their families have been told that unresolved legal issues mean it will be 11 months before a coroner’s court investigates.

Tarlagh Connolly, a cousin of Peter Ryan, spoke out.

“This happened 22 years ago and we have been fighting this case for the past 12,” he said.

“We will be following this through but it is another year, which is ridiculous.”

Legal issues including the screening of Crown force witnesses and where the inquest will sit still have to be considered, the coroner’s court heard.

A date for the four-week full hearing was set for September 1 2014.

Earlier this week, leave was granted to seek judicial reviews of the inquest delays, as well as those of two other men, Fergal McCusker and Neil McConville, who were shot dead in separate incidents.

Crown lawyers are to consider which material can be disclosed to the families and court, and have already begun reading and redacting documents.

Fiona Doherty, barrister for some of the men’s relatives, noted that the redaction was to be carried out in August this year.

She said the Crown forces’ lawyers were seeking a considerable amount of time before taking a final decision on which material would be redacted to protect ‘national security’.

Ms Doherty insisted that material to be disclosed “should be comprehensive in terms of the planning and content of this operation, to include all operational orders and briefing notes and everything that the inquest will require to determine what action was taken to minimise the need for recourse to force.”


Meanwhile, relatives of Real IRA member Gareth O’Connor, who was abducted and killed in 2003, have condemned another delay in holding an inquest into his death.

A non-jury inquest had been scheduled for November but has been adjourned until at least February next year after it emerged PSNI police had not yet completed their own censorship exercise on classified documents.

At a preliminary hearing in Belfast, his family lawyer said he was ‘flabbergasted’ that, eight years after Mr O’Connor’s body was recovered from Victoria Lock in Newry, issues around protecting the identity of witnesses and people named in ‘sensitive’ police papers had not yet been resolved.


And in Donegal, the family of murdered Sinn Féin official turned MI5 informer Denis Donaldson told a Coroner’s Court they believe the police investigation into his death is “inadequate”, and that no one will ever be brought to justice.

An inquest into his shooting death in rural County Donegal in April 2006 was adjourned for the 12th time last week.

The request for the latest adjournment was made by Garda Superintendent Michael Finan. He said further information had been requested by the Director of Public Prosecutions since the last hearing, which would take considerable time.

Lawyer for the Donaldson family, Ciaran Shiels, said this was “another let down” and added they did not expect any prosecution to ever arise from the investigation.

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