Northern Ireland news

Dublin government urged to demand inquiry into RUC killing of Michael Leonard in 1973

Michael Leonard was shot dead by the RUC between Belleek and Pettigo on May 17 1973.
Seamus McKinney

The Dublin government has been urged to call for a new inquiry into the death of a man shot dead by the RUC near the Fermanagh/Donegal border 48 years ago.

Cattle dealer Michael Leonard (24) was shot dead after a car chase near the Co Donegal border between Pettigo and Belleek on May 17 1973.

Mr Leonard was a disqualified driver. A police patrol had earlier spotted him getting into a car after leaving a shop.

At his inquest, police claimed a constable in a pursuing Land Rover had accidentally discharged a shot which killed Mr Leonard.

Following his death security forces wrongly claimed he and his father were members of the IRA.

In 2019 Attorney General John Larkin QC said he believed the killing was “unjustified” after documents were discovered revealing that the RUC fired three shots at Mr Leonard and not one.

The information was uncovered by Ciarán MacAirt of the charity Paper Trail.

While Mr Leonard’s death is part of the caseload of the PSNI’s Legacy Investigation Branch, his family are concerned that nothing has been done since the new information emerged.

The victim’s cousin Fr Joe McVeigh said the family believed the RUC “targeted and killed” Mr Leonard adding that the family was “disgusted” that the case has not progressed.

The killing has been taken up by Donegal Fianna Fáil councillor Michael Naughton who has called on the Irish government to request a new inquiry.

“The Leonard family deserve to get truth and justice for Michael,” Mr Naughton said.

Solicitor, Padhraic Cunningham – of Patrick Fahy and Company - said it was unacceptable that families were given no timescale in relation to when an investigation might begin or end.

“The trauma the delay in investigating this matter is visiting on Michael’s family is unimaginable,” Mr Cunningham said.

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