Northern Ireland news

Widow of shot Catholic man to launch legal action

Barney Watt was shot dead in 1971
Connla Young

The widow of a Catholic man shot dead by the British army is set to launch a civil action against the Ministry of Defence and PSNI chief constable this week.

In 2017 a coroner ruled that that killing of Barney Watt was unjustified.

Mr Watt died during trouble in the Ardoyne area of north Belfast in February 1971.

His widow Teresa has launched legal action to recover damages stemming from the killing by military personnel and the subsequent investigation by police.

It had been claimed he was shot while throwing a device at British soldiers.

However, in 2017 coroner Joe Mr McCrisken dismissed this.

"I am satisfied, based upon the evidence available to me at inquest, that Barney Watt was not the man described by the soldiers holding the explosive device,” he said.

"Based upon the evidence presented at inquest the use of lethal force against Barney Watt by military personnel was not justified."

At an original 1971 inquest into Mr Watt's death an open verdict was recorded.

The second inquest was launched after an order from Attorney General John Larkin QC.

Speaking ahead of this hearing, which is due to take place on Tuesday, Eoin Murphy of Ó Muirigh Solicitors said:

“This litigation now seeks to move this one step further, by apportioning liability and damages for the unlawful killing on those who, to date, have failed to acknowledge or accept their actions on that day were wrong,” he said.

“This is a case which will undoubtedly have ramifications for similar legacy actions to follow and it is hoped that the court will investigate the issues with an intense level of scrutiny and arrive at the correct decision.”

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