Northern Ireland news

Tory MP to decide on INLA man's inquest

INLA member Noel Little
Connla Young

ONE of the British government's most senior legal figures is to decide if a new inquest will be opened into the unexplained murder of an INLA man almost 40 years ago.

Noel Little (45) was shot dead along with fellow INLA member Ronnie Bunting (32) at Downfine Gardens in the Andersonstown area of west Belfast in October 1980.

The double murder has been shrouded in mystery amid claims that members of the SAS may have been involved, although at the time the UDA claimed responsibility.

The murders took place over a year after Tory MP Airey Neave was killed when an INLA booby trap bomb exploded under his car at the House of Commons in London.

In the months after Mr Neave's death several high profile figures linked to the IRSP and the National H-Block Committee were shot dead or seriously injured.

In an unusual move London-based Advocate General for Northern Ireland and Conservative MP Jeremy Wright has taken over the case from the Attorney General John Larkin.

It is understood to be only the second time this has happened. In the other case, new inquests were announced into the deaths of a civilian and eight IRA men killed by the SAS in Loughgall in 1987. They are yet to be concluded as they remain embroiled in legal controversy.

Mr Wright is also the Attorney General for England and Wales and takes on the role of Advocate General when dealing with certain cases in the north.

Secretary of State Karen Bradley has now issued a certificate transferring the case to the advocate general.

An NIO spokeswoman said: “The Secretary of State is satisfied there is material held by the UK Government relevant to the decision whether to open a fresh inquest, which is national security sensitive.”

Solicitor Michael Brentnall, who represents the Little family, urged the secretary of state to “withdraw the certificate”.

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