The family of assassinated Belfast republican Larry Marley have described a High Court date as a boost to the family’s campaign for justice.
Mr Marley, a former republican prisoner, was vindictively shot dead four years after he oversaw the 1983 mass escape of republican PoWs from Long Kesh. The ‘Great Escape’ was a major embarrassment to the Thatcher administration, especially in the shadow of the hunger strike two years earlier.
The killing was carried out by loyalist paramilitaries who are believed to have been in the pay of the British Crown Forces.
Mr Marley left behind a young family. His funeral was infamously delayed for three days after the RUC police launched a massive security operation and formed a heavily armed cordon around his home to prevent any military displays.
His family believes his father’s murder was “sanctioned at the highest echelons of the British establishment” and described the RUC’s actions during the funeral as “vicious”.
“We have never had anything that could be remotely described as an investigation,” his son, Joseph, said this week. “There couldn’t be for the simple fact that this was a state-sanctioned execution.”
His family are now suing the PSNI and the British Defence Forces over the involvement of state agents in the death squad which carried out the attack in north Belfast in April 1987. There have also been accusations that informers within the Provisional IRA helped set up the killing.
Damages are also being sought for misfeasance in public office, negligence, conspiracy to murder and ‘failures’ in the subsequent RUC/PSNI police investigation.
The family’s lawyer noted the action was listed for hearing “at a time when the British government is hell bent on stopping any other new conflict-related cases coming forward”.
Newly introduced legislation on dealing with the legacy of the conflict has provoked fierce opposition from all sides of the community in the north of Ireland.
Kevin Winters of KRW Law said outside court: “(Secretary of State) Brandon Lewis claims the current system isn’t working for families.
“He omitted to nuance his statement by clarifying that all of the delays are the fault of the government and its agencies for whom it doesn’t work every time they are forced to apologise in court, pay out damages, accept liability for systemic failures and be on the receiving end of endless reports from the Police Ombudsman and others exposing its role as a primary mover in a toxic proxy war during the conflict.”
The case has been listed for a five-day trial in January next year.