Northern Ireland news

Relatives reject SAS 'witch hunt' claims

The eight IRA men shot dead by the SAS at Loughgall
Connla Young

RELATIVES of people shot dead by the British army in suspected shoot-to-kill operations have said the killers should be held to account for their actions.

It comes amid reports that around 10 special forces British military veterans face investigation and possible trial.

A report in the Express newspaper quoted sources who said that SAS members are among those being investigated and they were the "latest victims of a legal witch hunt".

Former veterans minister and MP Johnny Mercer said people's lives were being ruined while an unnamed SAS veteran said that after risking their lives the state's "thank you" was to hound them for "doing our duty and helping protect the innocent.”

The undercover regiment has been linked to several controversial killings and claims of shoot-to-kill.

Several former soldiers are currently facing charges linked to the Troubles while earlier this month the trial of two army veterans accused of shooting Official IRA man Joe McCann in 1972 collapsed.

The British government in currently planning to introduce an amnesty for British military personnel who operated in the north during the Troubles, a move which will also apply to former paramilitaries.

Campaigner Mairead Kelly's brother Patrick was one of eight IRA men shot dead kin Loughgall, Co Armagh, in May 1987.

Civilian Anthony Hughes was also shot dead in the ambush.

Ms Kelly said relatives of people killed are entitled to the truth.

"It’s like the government and their agents do not have to be accountable for any of their actions. It’s like giving them a blank card to go and do as they please and worse to go and do what they are told whether lawful or not," she said.

"Why should they not be held accountable all families deserve the truth and there must be full disclosure of all actions and material."

The family of a man killed by the SAS has also voiced concern.

Francis Bradley, whose name was later added to the IRA's roll of honour, was shot dead during an ambush near Toome in February 1986.

The 20-year-old’s family believe he was the victim of a ‘shoot to kill’ policy.

His brother Brian said:

"If the SAS feel they are the victims, why don't they come and stand trial, let the families know what happened," he said.

"And if they are innocent they can go on with their lives, why hide."

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