The daughter of a Derry man killed by the British Army in 1978 has said she is “sickened to the core” that delays by the British government mean the inquest into his death cannot continue.
Patrick ‘Patsy’ Duffy was shot 14 times by undercover British soldiers.
The coroner Fiona Bagnall said the inquest would not proceed because the British Ministry of Defence (MoD) said it could not identify relevant files before 1 May 2024. This is the date when ongoing conflict-related inquests must be concluded as part of the British government’s infamous legacy law, which provides an overarching cover-up for its war crimes.
It was claimed the time to complete the work for Mr Duffy’s case “stretched to July because of the volume of work faced by the MoD at this time”.
A deliberate go-slow by the British Crown Forces in the discovery of relevant files is just one of a number of delaying tactics which have been used to stymie inquests, some of which have been held up for over a decade.
Mr Duffy’s daughter, Martina, told BBC Radio she was “sickened to the core and the MoD should be ashamed of themselves”.
“I miss my dad every day,” she said.
“He was a kind, funny and loveable father. Yes he was an auxiliary member of the IRA, we have always been upfront about that, but it did not give those soldiers the right to take his life that day.”
A fresh inquest into Patrick Duffy’s death was granted in March 2019 and has had 13 hearings to date.
“He was unarmed and they fired 14 bullets through my father,” Ms Duffy said. “They could’ve wounded him if they wanted to, but no.”
“I am sorely disappointed with the coroner’s decision. How is there only one person to deal with this volume of work in the MoD? It’s an absolute farce. It’s not good enough and we are not letting this go.”
“Get it finished,” she added.
Patricia Coyle, a lawyer for the family, said: “It is beyond credulity that the MoD have only one person completing this work for all inquests in Northern Ireland when the courts have expanded their resources to conclude those granted.
“It is insulting, not only to our clients but to the rule of law, that having had four years to complete this work, now come to the court to claim they cannot complete it until two months after the legacy deadline.”
It is feared several other ongoing inquests could also be halted in the coming months.
Sara Duddy, from the Pat Finucane Centre, added: “We are now seeing the outworking of the Legacy Act that is having real, devastating effects on families.
“The Duffys have spent over 40 years seeking the truth about the assassination of their father. They will not allow a ‘resource issue’ at the eleventh hour stop them for receiving answers.”