Clonoe Inquest Day 2

Roisín Ní Dhónaill - sister of Kevin Barry O'Donnell

The inquest into the killings of four IRA Volunteers in the grounds of Clonoe Chapel in February 1992, just outside Coalisland, by a covert unit of the British army this morning heard evidence from two members of the Ambulance Service who attended the scene in the aftermath of the shootings.

The first witness of the ambulance crew to testify told the inquest how on arrival he attended a soldier and a civilian who had both sustained gunshot wounds. The soldier had been shot in the face, (it is now known that this was a ricochet bullet from his own covert unit. Despite some initial reports that there was an exchange of gunfire between those killed and the covert unit the men killed did not fire any shots at the scene where the ambush occurred).

The witness said that when they arrived one soldier directed the ambulance crew towards a dark coloured car in which the injured soldier and the civilian were. The injured soldier was initially treated but later made his own way to hospital. The injured civilian despite having been shot was handcuffed to an RUC officer. His injuries were to his arm, back, and shoulder area.

He was transferred to a stretcher before being brought to hospital with first aid administered en-route. The RUC also accompanied the ambulance.

The witness further stated that when he asked were there any other people injured a soldier told them that there were three others who were dead. When the Ambulance Crew asked if they could check to see they were prevented from doing so by a soldier.

When questioned by a barrister for the family of Barry O’Donnell, instructed by Niall Murphy of KRW Law, the witness explained that all the soldiers they saw were dressed in black uniforms, each had their faces blackened, and the one that spoke, refusing access to the others who had been shot, had an English accent. He also referred to the soldiers carrying large guns.

The second member of the Ambulance Service confirmed this account adding that when they were refused access to the bodies, presumably to check for any signs of life, they radioed for a doctor and a priest.

The inquest then discussed specialist reports including an engineer’s report of the geography/topography of the area where the killings took place, forensic, and ballistic reports. This will take several weeks.

The coroner also said that he had received applications for screening from soldiers and former RUC members. The applications, he said, referred to the current ‘security situation’ and the ‘risks’ associated if the identities of those making the applications were to be known. No decisions have yet been taken in this regard.

A site visit to the scene of the ambush will also be organised for the coroner, his team and all the legal representatives and technical experts.

The next hearing will be on October 5.