Northern Ireland

Files on seven former British soldiers linked to MRF killings in west Belfast sent to Public Prosecution Service

Patrick McVeigh was shot dead by the MRF in May 1972
Patrick McVeigh was shot dead by the MRF in May 1972

SEVEN former British soldiers have been referred to the Public Prosecution Service as part of an investigation into a controversial undercover British army unit.

The Military Reaction Force (MRF) was set up in 1971 as a counter-insurgency unit and is suspected of being involved in the killing of several innocent Catholics in the 1970s.

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

Former Director of Public Prosecutions Barra McGrory later asked ex Chief Constable Matt Baggott to investigate the claims.

The PSNI's Legacy Investigation Branch is currently involved in examining the activities of the MRF in a probe known as Operation Everson.

The Public Prosecution Service (PPS) has now confirmed that it has received two files from police linked to seven former soldiers covering six incidents in 1972.

One file relates to five separate incidents involving a total of five suspects.

It is understood these include a shooting in the Glen Road area of west Belfast on May 6, 1972, during which a man was wounded.

On May 12 a man was injured after being shot at Slievegallion Drive in west Belfast.

On May 13 Pat McVeigh (44) was shot dead and four others injured at the junction of Finaghy Road North and Riverdale Park in South Belfast.

No-one was injured during another shooting incident on May 26 at Silvio Street in west Belfast.

The final incident in the file relates to a shooting at the Glen Road Bus Terminus in west Belfast in June 1972 during which four men were shot and injured.

One of the men, Tommy Shaw, was lying in bed in a nearby house when he was struck on the leg by a stray bullet.

A second file relates to a single shooting and is linked to two former military suspects.

It is understood it is connected to the killing of 18-year-old Daniel Rooney in the St James' Road in west Belfast in September 1972.

The teenager's remains were exhumed from Milltown Cemetery in 2016 as part of the investigation into his death.

A second man was injured in the attack.

The undercover military unit is also believed to have killed mother-of-one Jean Smyth Campbell (24) on the Glen Road area in June 1972

Operation Kenova head Jon Boutcher is currently overseeing a separate investigation into that killing.

A spokeswoman for the PPS said the “files are under active consideration by senior prosecutors and a decision will issue in due course”.

“We have recently made contact with victims and families to update them and also to explain our role and some of the legal issues under consideration in these cases,” she said.

“We will continue to keep the victims and families informed as we progress this work.”