Fresh inquests have been ordered into the deaths of five Catholic men killed by Loyalist paramilitary group the UVF in Co Tyrone more than 30 years ago.
Attorney General Brenda King has directed that inquests be held into the deaths of Phelim McNally, 28, in Coagh in 1988, Thomas Casey, 57, in Cookstown in 1990, Sean Anderson, 32, in Pomeroy in 1991 and teenager Dwayne O’Donnell, 17, and Thomas Armstrong, 52, in Cappagh in 1991.
A solicitor for the families of the men said the cases are linked through suspects, geography, and ballistics, and said he believes the cases involve collusion with state forces.
The decision to grant new inquests was taken on the basis of deficiencies in the original investigation and inquest as well as new information coming to light.
Solicitor Gavin Booth of Phoenix Law, who acts for the families of the men welcomed the ordering of fresh inquests.
- Families call on MPs to reject controversial Troubles legacy bill
- Heaton-Harris: Legacy Bill will finally provide answers for many Troubles families
- Republic will consider taking interstate case if Troubles Legacy Bill passed – Varadkar
“For too long these families have sought answers as to what happened to their loved ones,” he said.
“New evidence which has come to light raises serious questions, not only about the involvement of the 8th Battalion of the UDR in all these killings, but also as regards the failure of the RUC to prosecute these individuals.”
The move comes as the British government’s controversial Legacy Bill is expected to get royal assent later this year.
It is set to give immunity from prosecution for Troubles-related offences to people who co-operated with the Independent Commission for Reconciliation and Information Recovery (ICRIR), and will prevent future civil cases and inquests.
Fresh inquests have been directed into the deaths of five men killed by the UVF in Co Tyrone between 1988-1991 due to “deficiencies” in the original investigations. @GavinBooth23 says cases linked by suspects, geography and ballistics, and alleged collusion pic.twitter.com/7mEE9f8AE8— Rebecca Black (@RBlackPA) August 7, 2023
All inquests linked to the Troubles must reach a conclusion by May of next year. After May, cases are then passed to the ICRIR.
Mr Booth said his clients “are steadfast in their commitment to seeing these inquests completed”.
“To be clear, this inquest and all those that are before the courts should continue,” he said.
“These families deserve that right and their inquests should be properly resourced and heard within a timely fashion.
“Our next step is to ask for this case to be urgently listed before the Coroners Court and for immediate steps to be taken to make sure this case goes ahead without delay.”
Seana Quinn, sister of Mr O’Donnell, said her family has been fighting for decades for answers.
“Our families are fighting for truth and justice, it’s not up for debate,” she said.
“We deserve this inquest.”
Davina Bolton, daughter of Phelim McNally, said her father was an innocent man.
“He was out doing his daily things and he was robbed of his life,” she said.
“This is an important day for us because we’re finally moving forward and getting closer to the truth. We’ve been waiting for a long time for this, 35 years, we just need truth and justice.”