The RUC have “gotten away with the murder of a 9 year old child” after a decision was taken not to prosecute anyone in relation to the case, according to his family.
The Crown Prosecution Service in the North has confirmed that no-one will be held accountable for killing Patrick Rooney or Catholic men Hugh McCabe and Samuel McLarnon, all three of whom were shot dead by the RUC in 1969.
Nine-year-old Patrick Rooney was shot and killed in the bedroom of his home in the Divis Flats in west Belfast.
The suspect is believed to have been an RUC gunner in one of three Shorland police vehicles which were in the Divis area at the time of the shooting. Two other suspects, both RUC gunners in the other tank-like vehicles, have since died.
Prosecutors have said there is no evidence to establish which of the three gunners fired the actual fatal shot in each case. They also claimed it could not be established that the surviving RUC man was part of a “joint enterprise” with either of the other two.
Patrick’s brother Con spoke of his disappointment that no one would be held to account.
“The RUC have literally gotten away with the murder of a 9 year old child,” he said.
“Thirteen homes in the Divis Flats were shot up that night yet not one officer had the courage to admit to this, even when ballistics evidence and witnesses proved their accounts were false.
“I am very disappointed for my family, in particular my mother and late father who campaigned tirelessly for justice for Patrick.”
It remains to be explained why no official action was taken following the 1972 Scarman Report, which considered the killings and flatly rejected RUC denials that fired shots at the Divis flats.
“The foundations for today’s decision not to prosecute an RUC officer for Patrick’s killing were of course solidly laid by the RUC itself,” said Fearghal Shiels, of Madden and Finucane.
The family of Hugh McCabe were also told yesterday that a former RUC officer identified as a suspect in his killing will not face charges. A serving British soldier, the father-of-two was shot dead by an RUC officer near his home in Divis Flats. Prosecutors say it cannot be conclusively established which of two RUC gunmen fired the fatal shot.
In the case of Samuel McLarnon, shot in the living room of his house in the Ardoyne area of north Belfast, prosecutors claimed the “only identified suspect” is now deceased.
Speaking about all three cases, Relatives for Justice spokesman Paul Butler said: “Today’s news that due to passage of time there will be no prosecutions in the killings of three civilians by the RUC in 1969 is that the price of justice delayed is truly justice denied.
“Today’s shame should motivate all actors, especially the British government to move immediately and implement mechanisms to deal with the past so no more families face this appalling vista.”