House of Lords

Press release: February 2nd 2004

The House of Lords will today hear submissions from the legal team
representing the family of Gervaise Mc Kerr on the retrospective nature
of the May 01 European Court of Human Rights ruling that found the
British Government in violation of Article 2 – the Right to Life.

The ruling found that the Article 2 compliant procedures of
impartiality, promptness and effectiveness in respect to all elements
of the investigations into the killings of 14 people by the British
army (SAS), RUC, and loyalists were in violation of Article 2. Aside
from including RUC ‘investigations’ the ruling equally condemned the
restrictive nature of inquests, and the role of the DPP for not
providing reasons for failing to prosecute members of the British army,
loyalists, and the RUC in respect of the killings.

The McKerr family, and the other families involved in the 01 ruling,
are arguing that the ruling should be retrospective and that therefore
fresh investigations into the killings are required. If successful this
will allow for other similar action to be taken by families also
subjected to the same investigative procedures as those condemned in
the European ruling.

The hearings will begin today and conclude tomorrow. A successful
ruling citing that the European findings should be retrospective
effectively means that all British army and RUC killings, and loyalist
killings, in which collusion is suspected or evidenced, should be

Speaking on behalf of Relatives for Justice Mark Thompson reiterated
the view that; ‘RFJ, including scores of families, had always
interpreted the ruling as being retrospective and were hoping for a
successful outcome.’

We have always believed that the procedural failings on the part of the
British State was a form of administrative impunity and that this is
borne out by the fact that only three convictions for murder were
secured out 367 state killings. In terms of collusion the failings are
equally compelling. A retrospective ruling will vindicate the families’
consistent view that there were cover-ups, via cosmetic and perfunctory
‘investigations’ and inquests. And in this context many relatives will
want the circumstances of their own loss re-opened and examined.’

The ruling will be delayed and it could take several months before we know the outcome.
Editors notes: Killings of Gervaise McKerr, Eugene Toman, & Sean
Burns in Craigavon Co. Armagh 1982 by the RUC – SAS killings May 8th
1987 by the SAS in Loughgall Co Armagh – killing of Pearse Jordan Nov.
1992 by the RUC – and of Patrick Shanaghan by loyalists on August 12th
1991 Castlederg Co. Tyrone.