Northern Ireland

Family of Sean Brown voice concern over British government legacy proposals

Sean Brown
Sean Brown

THE grandson of murdered GAA official Sean Brown has described plans by the British government to end legacy civil cases as "shameful".

Daman Brown spoke out days after the British government outlined its controversial plans for dealing with the past.

Under the disputed proposals civil legal cases can no longer be brought and some inquests will not be heard.

Some relatives of people killed during the Troubles have voiced dismay over the Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill.

Earlier this month the PSNI apologised for inadequacies in the RUC’s original investigation into Sean Brown's murder and agreed a settlement with his widow Bridie as part of civil proceedings.

An inquest into his death is scheduled to be heard next year.

The 61-year-old was attacked and beaten by LVF members as he locked the gates at Bellaghy Wolfe Tones GAC on May 12 1997.

The Bellaghy club chairman was then put in the boot of his own car and taken to a country lane outside Randalstown in Co Antrim where he was shot six times.

His body was later found beside his burning car.

Campaigners suspect collusion and no-one has ever been charged in connection with the murder.

Mr Brown's family were dealt a second blow last October when his son Damian, who was prominent in his family's campaign for justice and attended around 30 inquest linked hearings, died after a short illness.

His son Daman last night highlighted his family's concerns.

"My father Damian travelled up to Belfast for preliminary hearings over 30 times and every single time there were delays and excuses as to why the PSNI and MoD (Ministry of Defence) had not supplied documents," he said

"Will they keep delaying this inquest as they have done for 20 years until the new law comes into force?

Mr Brown was critical of the British government's plans.

"We settled a civil action against the chief constable on May 12," he said.

"Days later the British government announced that such civil actions would be outlawed. This is shameful for other families coming behind us. They have the same right to a civil case and an inquest as we do.

"If this law is passed reconciliation is the last thing it will bring."

Paul O'Connor from the Pat Finucane Centre said: "It is completely understandable that the family and wider community are deeply suspicious of where this is all going."

The NIO said the legislation aimed to give families and victims access to more efficient ways of retrieving information.

"The Government believes that the Legacy Bill will deliver for those most impacted by the Troubles; providing answers and accountability for many families, delivering on our commitments to those who served in Northern Ireland, and helping society in Northern Ireland to look forward," a spokesperson said.

"The legislation aims to give families and victims access to quicker, more efficient methods of retrieving information about what happened to their loved ones."

Meanwhile, the national president of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in America, Danny O'Connell, was part of a delegation that met with relatives of people killed during the 1972 Springhill massacre at a memorial garden to the dead in west Belfast yesterday.

Five people, including a priest and three teenagers, were shot dead by the British army.

During a meeting, arranged by Relatives for Justice, Mr O'Connell said his organisation stands by families in their campaign for justice.