Northern Ireland news

Attorney General asks PPS to order new New Lodge Six investigation

Attorney General John Larkin
Connla Young

The Attorney General John Larkin has asked the Public Prosectition Service to order a fresh investigation into the killing of six men in north Belfast 45 years ago.

The victims died during two separate shooting incidents in the New Lodge district in February 1973.

Three of the men were members of the IRA but were not involved in republican activities at the time.

Last year the families of some of those killed asked the attorney general John Larkin for a new inquest.

Now in a letter to Relatives for Justice a solicitor at his office has said Mr Larkin “considers there was no adequate criminal justice investigation at the time”.

The official said that Mr Larkin “does not think that directing an inquest now would contribute materially to identifying and punishing the perpetrator or perpetrators of these killings or be otherwise advisable”.

He said Mr Larkin is of the view that “the better course of action” is to ask the Director of Public Prosecutions to use his power to “require the chief constable to investigate”.

Relatives believe that an undercover British army unit known as the Military Research Force (MRF) may have been involved in killing two of the men, IRA members James Sloan (19) and James McCann (19).

Loyalists were originally suspected of involvement in the drive-by gun attack on the pair as they stood outside a bar at the top of the New Lodge Road.

Another IRA man, Tony Campbell (19) was shot dead a short time later at the junction of New Lodge Road and Edlingham Street along with three other local men John Loughran (35), Brendan Maguire (32), and Ambrose Hardy (26).

Mr Hardy was shot in the head after he emerged from a bar while waving a white cloth and John Loughran was killed after leaving the safety of his home to help the injured.

Mr Hardy’s sister Rosaleen Beattie last night said his death was “devastating” for her family.

“We hope everything goes well and we get justice at the end of the day,” she said. “

RFJ spokesman Mike Ritchie said relatives will now be seeking a meeting with the DPP.

“The feeling is this is a good development,” he said.

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