The families of six men killed by British soldiers in the New Lodge, Belfast on the night of 3rd/4th February 1973 have applied, with Relatives for Justice, to the Attorney General, John Larkin for a fresh inquest into their deaths.
The killings of James McCann, James Sloan, Tony Campbell, Brendan Maguire, John Loughran and Ambrose Hardy have always been disputed by their families and by the local community.
A community inquiry was held on the 30th anniversary of the killings and this collected much new evidence, including eye witness testimony, and available public information. Requests for information from the RUC, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the British government were ignored. An international panel of experts assessed the information and concluded the British authorities had questions to answer.
In the interim, despite endless negotiation, a formal independent investigation mechanism has not been established which would allow for these matters to be independently investigated.
Families have now taken the difficult decision, in the absence of other forms of investigation, that the best way to have those questions answered is through a new inquest into their loved ones’ deaths. The current legal framework for the coronial system will be able to force the PSNI and MoD to hand over documentation and ensure any surviving soldiers are required to attend and face cross examination on their conduct 44 years ago. It will also mean that vital testimony from eye witnesses, whose statements were not heard by the original inquest can at last be considered.
It is the Attorney General, John Larkin, who has the power (by way of s.14 of the Coroners (NI) Act 1959) to order a new inquest. A submission of all available evidence and information has been prepared for the families by Relatives for Justice and submitted to Mr Larkin’s office.
The families of James McCann, James Sloan, Tony Campbell, Brendan Maguire, John Loughran and Ambrose Hardy now hope that a new inquest will provide them with the answers they have waited for so long.
For Further Information Please Contact Mike Ritchie, RFJ’s Senior Advocacy Director, on 028 90627171 or [email protected]