Support for Leonard family’s fight for new inquest

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The family of Michael Leonard has won the support of Fermanagh and Omagh council in its efforts to secure truth and justice for the unarmed innocent civilian who was shot dead on his way to cross the border to his home County Donegal home.

At the time of his death, the young Pettigo farmer was engaged to be married to Mena Gallagher who lived near Ederney, County Fermanagh.

A number of different versions of how Michael was shot emerged in the immediate aftermath. British army logs discovered in Kew Library, include a version labelled “New Story” and another which falsely claimed he was “an IRA man”.

In the aftermath of the killing, the RUC police also lied to Michael’s family, the media, and the coroner at the original inquest. The RUC account changed from the victim breaking through a vehicle checkpoint in Fermanagh, to a single accidental “million to one” shot that killed Michael.

In the end, all of the RUC accounts were lies. This was proven by secret British military archives discovered by the ‘Paper Trail’ charity, and documented in a report published by Michael’s cousin, Father Joseph McVeigh.

In the last two and a half years since the charity published the secret files, the British state – including the police, the Office of the Police Ombudsman, and Public Prosecution Service – have done nothing to bring the RUC killers to justice.

This week, the Fermanagh and Omagh District Council voted in support of a motion brought by Sinn Féin declaring support for the family’s fight for a new inquest.

It also called on the Police Ombudsman to “undertake an immediate criminal investigation into the actions of the personnel traveling in the Police Land Rover from which the shots directed at Michael Leonard’s car were fired”, and for the British authorities and Crown Forces to fully co-operate with a fresh investigation.

Michael’s cousin, Father Joe McVeigh said the family was “very happy” for the support of the council and commended the work of those who spoke and voted in support of the motion.

“We have also petitioned the Irish government for support as Michael was an Irish citizen murdered by armed officers of the Royal Ulster Constabulary,” he said.

“The RUC then covered up the true circumstances of their murder of Michael, lying to our family, the public, the Irish government, and the Coroner at the original inquest.

“The British state’s amnesty proposals prove that it may wish to bury its war crimes and protect its killers, but all families have a right to truth and justice.”

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