Northern Ireland news

Belfast man shot 45 years ago wants PSNI removed from case

Hugh Kenny, who was shot in 1972 by the British army's Military Reaction Force (MRF), with his solicitor Niall Ó Murchu. Picture by Mal McCann
Connla Young

A Belfast man who was shot by an undercover British army unit 45 years ago is set to launch legal action to force the PSNI to hand over its investigation to an outside force.

Hugh Kenny (68) was injured at a bus terminus on the city's Glen Road in June 1972 in a gun attack believed to have been carried out by the Military Reaction Force (MRF).

Three other men were also injured, one of whom was lying in bed in a nearby house and was struck by a stray bullet.

The controversial military unit is believed to have killed mother-of-one Jean Smyth Campbell (24) in the same area weeks earlier.

It has also been linked to a earlier shooting which injured a 15-year-boy in the area.

Earlier this year a High Court judge held that the PSNI lacks the necessary independence to oversee further inquiries into the killing of Ms Smyth Campbell.

Her family were granted a declaration that a proposed probe by the force's Legacy Investigations Branch would breach human rights requirements.

The MRF was set up in 1971 as a counter-insurgency unit and is believed to have been involved in the killings of several innocent Catholics before it was dissolved.

In 2013 the BBC's Panorama programme broadcast claims by former soldiers that the unit had killed unarmed people while hunting "the IRA".

Mr Kenny suffered serious injuries including losing part of his intestine and bowel.

He also sustained nerve damage and continues to suffer daily pain.

Arms charges against a British soldier arrested after the shooting were later dropped while a second soldier, who was accused of attempted murder, was acquitted.

Mr Kenny has since raised concerns about how the case was handled.

He also says he has no faith in the PSNI to carry out an impartial investigation.

In 2015 the force revealed it was investigating the alleged involvement of the unit in up to 18 shootings, including that of Mr Kenny.

The Belfast man said he has refused to co-operate and believes “an outside independent police force" should probe the MRF.

“The PSNI are not acceptable to me,” he said.

“I believe they are partisan when it comes to legacy matters related to the Troubles."

Niall Ó’Murchú of Madden and Finucane Solicitors said: “The chief constable should immediately appoint an outside team of impartial investigators to take over the investigation, as has been done in the Stakeknife case.

“There is real risk that a future independent investigation might be damaged by the inappropriate and flawed involvement of the PSNI’s Legacy Investigation Branch.”

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access

Northern Ireland news