Northern Ireland

Relative of New Lodge Six victim launches legal action over investigation

Ambrose Hardy
Ambrose Hardy

THE sister of a man shot dead by the British army almost 50 years ago is to launch legal action over a decision by the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) not to request a fresh investigation into the killing.

Rosaleen Beatty's brother Ambrose Hardy (26) was shot as he emerged from a bar in the New Lodge area of north Belfast in February 1973.

He was one of six men killed during two separate incidents in the area.

It later emerged that three of the men were members of the IRA but were not involved in activities at the time.

Relatives believe that an undercover army unit, known as the Military Research Force (MRF), may have been involved in killing two of the men, IRA members James Sloan (19) and James McCann (19).

Another IRA man, Tony Campbell (19), was shot dead a short time later at the junction of New Lodge Road and Edlingham Street along with three other men, John Loughran (35), Brendan Maguire (32), and Mr Hardy.

Together the dead are known as the New Lodge Six.

Mr Hardy was shot in the head after he emerged from a bar while waving a white cloth.

His sister is now challenging a decision by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) not to ask the PSNI to carry out an investigation.

She is also challenging a decision by the PSNI to allocate the killing to its legacy investigation unit.

In 2017 she applied to the Attorney General John Larkin to a direct a fresh inquest into the death of her brother.

In September 2018 he said he would not direct a fresh inquest but that the DPP should direct that the Chief Constable of the PSNI investigate Mr Hardy's death.

In February this year the PPS declined that request.

Gary Duffy, of KRW Law, who is a grandson of Mr Hardy, said the judicial review "challenges both the PPS and PSNI decisions not to prioritise the investigations into the killings".

“It says it all really that after the bereaved families participated in the community-based New Lodge Six inquiry the state were on notice of the serious ongoing justice deficit but still failed to act,” he said.

Mike Ritchie from Relatives for Justice, said: “We are in a situation where, even though prominent legal officers acknowledge the need for a murder investigation, nothing happens.

“This cannot be right.”

A PPS spokeswoman said it "recognises the deep frustration and hurt experienced by families who are still seeking answers regarding the circumstances of their loved ones’ deaths".

“We understand why families may view a Section 35 (5) request as a vehicle by which their case can be advanced. However, after careful consideration, it was considered that such a request was inappropriate in this case.

“We understand that this decision will have been disappointing for Mr Hardy’s family. The reasons for it have previously been explained in a letter to the legal representatives of his family.

“As legal proceedings are underway, it would not be appropriate to comment further.”