Northern Ireland

Family of Michael Leonard who was shot dead by RUC meets DFA officials

Cattle dealer Michael Leonard was killed after a car chase near the border between Pettigo and Belleek
Cattle dealer Michael Leonard was killed after a car chase near the border between Pettigo and Belleek

THE family of a Co Donegal man shot dead by the RUC almost 50 years ago has held fresh talks with Irish government officials.

Michael Leonard (24) was shot after a car chase close to the Fermanagh and Donegal border between Pettigo and Belleek on May 17, 1973.

At the time police claimed that Mr Leonard, who was a disqualified driver, had failed to stop when he got into a car after leaving a shop and that a single shot was later fired during a chase.

His family met officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs in Omagh today.

Read more:

Police admit 1973 RUC killing of Catholic man Michael Leonard was murderOpens in new window ]

Fr Joe McVeigh
Fr Joe McVeigh

The family had wanted to know what the Irish government has done in relation to the case since a previous meeting in November 2021.

They also wanted to update officials on a family report, which they say includes new evidence.

The meeting followed what has been described as “the failure” of the Police Ombudsman “to advance its investigation in over three years”, which they say has delayed a new inquest.

Campaigning priest Fr Joe McVeigh, Michael’s cousin, said: “Fifty years is far too long for any family to wait for truth and justice," he said.

Ciarán MacAirt, of Paper Trail, who has worked with the family said: “As Michael’s family approach the 50th anniversary of his killing by RUC and ask once again for the support of the Irish government, Britain’s pernicious Legacy Bill threatens the family’s basic human rights.”

A spokesman for the Police Ombudsman said that a "full investigation cannot proceed until resources allow".

The spokesman added that "it is not currently anticipated that the ombudsman will be in a position to commence an investigation in advance of any new legislation".

"The decision to hold an inquest is a matter for the coroner," she added.