Republic of Ireland news

Aidan McAnespie report 'should be released by Irish government'

Aidan McAnespie was shot dead by the British army in February 1988
Connla Young

RELATIVES of Aidan McAnespie have renewed calls for the Irish government to release a withheld report into the British army killing.

The dead man’s cousin, Sinn Féin councillor Anne Marie Fitzgerald, made the call after justice minister Charlie Flanagan said he supported a public inquiry into the loyalist murder of solicitor Pat Finucane.

Ms Fitzgerald said releasing the 1988 Crowley Report would help the family in their quest for "truth and justice".

Mr McAnespie (23) was shot dead as he crossed a British army checkpoint on his way to Aghaloo GAC's grounds near Aughnacloy in Co Tyrone in February 1988.

A former British soldier, David Jonathan Holden (49), has been accused of gross negligence manslaughter in relation to Mr McAnespie's death.

The Crowley Report was compiled after the Irish government appointed then Garda deputy commissioner Eugene Crowley to investigate the death.

The results were received by then justice minister Gerry Collins in April 1988, but have never been published.

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Ms Fitzgerald said she had written to Mr Flanagan urging him to release the report.

“I fully support Minister Flanagan’s call for a public enquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane.

“However, Minister Flanagan is withholding the publication of the Crowley report into the murder of Aidan McAnespie, which would help the family in our quest for truth and justice," she said.

“Every family who has lost a loved one is entitled to truth and justice.”

Charlie Flanagan said he supported a public inquiry into the loyalist murder of solicitor Pat Finucane

Last month GAA members unanimously endorsed the family's request to have the report released at the association’s annual congress.

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte has also backed their calls.

Responding to a query from the Irish News last night, Mr Flanagan described the "needless and untimely" death of Mr McAnespie as "an immeasurable loss to his family" but said an undertaking of confidentiality was given to local people who co-operated with the Crowley Report and "it has not been considered possible to date to publish the report in its entirety".

"In the circumstances where the DPP in Northern Ireland has announced that a prosecution is to be taken in connection with this incident, it would not be appropriate for me to comment in detail," he added.

"What I will say is that dealing with the legacy of the Troubles on this island is complex and challenging for all involved... What we must keep to the forefront of our minds, however, is the importance of acknowledging and addressing the needs of victims and their families.

"The government remains fully and firmly committed to giving effect to the framework of measures agreed with the British government and the parties in Northern Ireland in the 2014 Stormont House Agreement to seek to address the legacy of conflict. We will continue our efforts to seek to address the political difficulties in Northern Ireland that have delayed the implementation of these measures.”

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