Northern Ireland news

Coroner told of increase in sensitive state material linked to LVF murder of Seamus Dillon in Dungannon

Seamus Dillon was shot dead by the LVF in Dungannon in 1997
David Young, PA

The volume of sensitive state material related to the loyalist shooting of a nightclub doorman has increased significantly in the last eight years, a coroner has been told.

Former republican prisoner Seamus Dillon was gunned down by the LVF outside the Glengannon Hotel in Dungannon in 1997.

The shooting was seen as a revenge attack by loyalists following the murder of LVF leader Billy Wright in the Maze prison hours earlier.

An inquest for the 45-year-old father of three is due to commence next April.

Earlier inquest proceedings into Mr Dillon’s death stalled in 2014 due to financial issues prior to the substantive hearing taking place.

A preliminary hearing today before coroner Richard Greene was told that a state application to withhold certain material from the inquest, on the grounds of Public Interest Immunity (PII), had not be completed eight years ago.

Counsel for the coroner Frank O’Donoghue KQ said in 2014 the state had applied for PII on material contained within 180 pages.

He said a hearing before the then coroner to determine whether the PII application would be upheld had not taken place.

Mr O’Donoghue said the situation eight years on had “changed very significantly” and a new PII exercise ahead of next year’s inquest was set to cover much more material.

He said there was “considerably greater amounts of sensitive material” that had to be reviewed as part of the PII process.

Joanne Hannigan KC, representing the PSNI and MoD, confirmed that was the case.

“Yes, that is the position,” she told the hearing.

“We advised the legacy unit on September 24 that there are 11 folders of sensitive material which are ready to be reviewed on behalf of the coroner.

“And that is, in essence, the information that was provided in 2014 and there’s also then further information.

“Ultimately, now we’re looking at 11 folders that require to be reviewed as to relevance.

“And it is likely that a new PII certificate will be required for all the material that is being put forward and that needs to be reviewed for relevance.

“So, it is a substantial enough amount of material.”

The next preliminary hearing in the case was listed for November 8.

Northern Ireland news