Northern Ireland news

Inquest into SAS shooting of two IRA men set to take place next year

Danny Doherty, aged 23, and William Fleming, who was 19, were killed by soldiers at Gransha Hospital in Derry
Jonathan McCambridge, PA

An inquest into the deaths of two IRA men shot dead by the SAS in the grounds of a hospital in 1984 is set to proceed next year.

Danny Doherty, aged 23, and William Fleming, who was 19, were killed by soldiers at Gransha Hospital in Derry.

It has been alleged the republicans, who were from the city, were planning to attack an off-duty member of the UDR when soldiers ambushed them, firing almost 60 shots.

At a preliminary inquest hearing in Belfast, Fiona Doherty, counsel for the coroner, told the court that the case had been going on for some time but there had not been a hearing for some time.

Updating coroner Mr Justice Huddleston on progress, she said: “MoD (Ministry of Defence) and PSNI non-sensitive disclosure has been made.

“There is outstanding for both of those bodies in sensitive material.

“We await PII (public interest immunity) certificates and it would be useful to receive an indication of the timescale for that process.”

Counsel for the PSNI Mark Robinson QC said: “The reference to PSNI sensitive materials.

“We have taken instructions and there are four lever arch files of material.

“They have been examined and redacted.

“The next stage is a scheduling exercise where each of the redactions are put into a schedule and then counsel’s opinion needs to be compiled.

“Following that it needs to go to the chief constable and thereafter to the NIO for a certificate.

“The anticipated timescale for the completion of that exercise is mid-September 2022.”

Counsel for the Ministry of Defence, Peter Coll QC said he hoped to follow a similar timescale but warned that there is a series of other cases going through the public interest immunity process and that this could cause a delay.

Miss Doherty also told the hearing that due to the amount of time the case had taken, there needed to be an update on the willingness of military witnesses to be interviewed by the coroner’s investigator as part of the proceedings.

Mr Justice Huddleston said: “It is the intention to write to the MoD to seek their formal position in respect of all of the various witnesses.”

In relation to scheduling the inquest hearing and selecting a venue, Miss Doherty said there were currently difficulties and pressures on court space and time.

Mr Justice Huddleston said: “In relation to the venue I am happy for any submissions which are to be made in written format but the parties will be aware of the difficulties of court venues at this time, particularly with the backlog from the pandemic.

“I have taken the preliminary step of securing Banbridge court for the dates from April 17 for six weeks to have that in the diary.”

The next review hearing will take place on May 24.

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