Irish Republican News · May 14, 2016
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
New investigation into death of internee shot in the back


Six County Attorney General John Larkin has ordered a fresh inquest into the death of a County Tyrone man shot dead while trying to escape from Long Kesh internment camp more than 40 years ago.

Hugh Gerard Coney was shot in the back by a British soldier as he and other internees tried to escape in November 1974.

During internment, which lasted from 1971 to 1975, hundreds of nationalists were detained without charge at the former RAF base near Lisburn. Mr Coney was seized from his home near Coalisland in June 1973.

An inquest held in 1975 delivered an open verdict and his family has been campaigning to have the case re-examined.

A Historical Enquiries Team report has said British soldiers involved in the shooting gave differing accounts of what happened on the night the 24-year-old died.

A pathologist also found that Mr Coney was shot once “from behind, whilst doubled forward”. In a letter to the family’s solicitor Padraig O Muirigh, Mr Larkin confirmed he is ordering a new inquest.

He said that if it was clear to him that Mr Coney had been deliberately shot in circumstances where whoever shot him was acting unlawfully he “should instead of directing an inquest, have sent papers to the Director of Public Prosecutions”.

Mr Coney’s brother Jim, who has campaigned for a fresh inquest, welcomed the decision and revealed he was refused access to the first inquest.

“The first one (inquest) was a sham and I need to know what did happen,” he said. “We just want to find out the truth. It’s 42 years and it’s a long haul. If he had not been killed he would have grandchildren running around him, I think of those things at times.”

Sinn Fein assembly member Linda Dillon, who has supported the Coney family, said the family deserves to know the truth.

Fra McCann, a West Belfast Sinn Fein assembly member, was an eyewitness to the shooting and is likely to appear as a witness at the inquest.

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© 2016 Irish Republican News