The British government is to be asked to explain the disappearance of part of the body of Aidan McAnespie in 1988. The 23-year-old was shot dead by a British soldier close to a border checkpoint at Aughnacloy in County Tyrone as he made his way to a local Gaelic sports club.
Last week, the Six County State Pathologist James Lyness reported that a section of the Tyrone man’s rib cage had been removed and “disposed of”.
The pathologist said that part of the chest cage removed contained the exit bullet wound. He said the body part would have been held as part of the RUC police investigation into Mr McAnespie’s death.
The body part was taken during a post-mortem without the knowledge of his family, which has campaigned for its return for Christian burial.
Archbishop Eamon Martin has appealed to the British Direct Ruler Karen Bradley to help locate it.
Speaking in the Dublin parliament, Sinn Fein TD Caomhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs to join him in “expressing alarm and exasperation” at the revelations by Dr Lyness, which emerged in correspondence to the McAnespie family lawyer.
Mr Ó Caoláin also asked Mr Coveney to raise the matter with Karen Bradley. Mr Coveney said he “can certainly raise concerns with the Secretary of State”, adding: “This painful information must be all the more distressing by the long time the family have had to wait for it.
“We will try to establish the facts surrounding some of the issues that you have outlined and I will ensure that the issue is raised with the appropriate authorities.”
Manslaughter charges brought against the soldier who fired the fatal shots, Grenadier Guardsman David Jonathan Holden, were dropped. He was later fined for “negligent discharge” of his weapon and allowed to return to duty before being given a medical discharge in 1990.
Mr McAnespie’s cousin Brian Gormley said that the removal of the body part and delays in making a decision “is an example of the state’s failure in its obligations”.