Northern Ireland

Seven people granted ‘properly interested persons’ status at inquests

Group includes at least two loyalists

Convicted loyalist killer Laurence Maguire appeared on the programme
Laurence Maguire

At least two loyalists are among seven individuals granted ‘properly interested persons’ (PIP) status at inquests into the murders of four people more than 30 years ago.

Mid Ulster loyalists Laurence Maguire and Vicky Ahtty have been granted PIP status at the linked inquests into the killings carried out in Co Tyrone in the early 1990s.

The include the double murder of Kevin McKearney (32), was shot by the UVF along with his uncle Jack McKearney (70) in the Moy in January 1992.

Kevin was killed instantly, while Jack died later in hospital.

Eight months later, in September 1992, Charlie Fox (63) and his wife Tess (53), who were Kevin McKearney’s in-laws, were gunned down in their home, near Moy, by a UVF gang.

Collusion is suspected in both cases along with others carried out in the Mid Ulster area.

Both Maguire and Ahtty were among five men charged and convicted of offences in connection with the murder of Charles and Tess Fox.

Ahtty was also convicted of conspiracy to murder in relation to the McKearney case.

Five other individuals have also been given PIP status at the McKearney inquest and assigned the ciphers S1, S2, S6 and S529.

Three of these, S1, S2 and S6 are also included in Fox proceedings along with a fourth, S413.

Relatives of the victims, represented by Gavin Booth of Phoenix Law, are understood to be considering a challenge to the decision to grant anonymity to several of the PIPs.

The inquests opened last January but have been held up due to ongoing disclosure delays.

In an interview with the BBC in 2019 Maguire claimed he was involved in an aborted attempt to target members of the Cairns family near Bleary, Co Armagh, in 1992.

He also claimed that targeting information came from former UVF commander Billy Wright, which was supplied to him by RUC members.

It is understood Maguire was questioned by police about murder plan earlier this year and a file has since been forwarded to the Public Prosecution Service (PPS).

Siblings Gerard (22) and Rory (18) Cairns were later shot dead by the UVF on October 28, 1993.