MoD ‘failing to co-operate’ with inquest into deaths of IRA men in Coagh

The burnt out car in which three IRA men were shot dead by the SAS in Coagh in 1991.

The burnt out car in which three IRA men were shot dead by the SAS in Coagh in 1991.

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The Ministry of Defence (MoD) is failing to co-operate with an inquest into the deaths of three IRA men killed in an SAS ambush, a coroner’s court has heard.

Michael “Peter” Ryan, 37, Anthony Doris, 21, and Laurence McNally, 38 were gunned down at Coagh, Co Tyrone in June 1991.

Lawyers for their next of kin claimed a “startling” lack of co-operation suggested a corporate decision had been taken on the matter.

Karen Quinlivan QC said: “The MoD are clearly not co-operating with this process.”

The allegations were made during a preliminary hearing at Mays Chambers in Belfast where it was revealed soldiers involved in the fatal shootings had not made fresh statements for the long-awaited inquest.

Ms Quinlivan added: “We have a 100% record with soldiers refusing to take part in the statement making process.”

Barrister Fiona Doherty said: “The statements provided at the time were sanitised versions. Not every issue was covered.

“We are not sure why this unilateral decision has been taken.”

However, Peter Coll, acting on behalf of the MoD, said the coroner’s office had not made a formal request for new statements.

He said: “As I understand it there have not been any formal requests through the MoD or otherwise for the soldiers to consider giving further statements.

“That may be the case in other inquests.”

Ordering the MoD to establish if soldiers were willing to assist, Coroner Jim Kitson said: “It is my direction that the MoD contact their witnesses with a view to finding out whether or not they are prepared to co-operate further.”

Meanwhile, the court was also told that a police video of the scene and surveillance tapes had not been disclosed to the families’ legal teams.

And, it was revealed that a senior Army officer was involved in seven separate incidents where lethal force was deployed.

Among the other matters discussed during the hearing were the scope of the inquest; and potential applications for Public Interest Immunity (PII) on certain material deemed by the police and MoD to touch on national security concerns.

Another preliminary hearing has been scheduled for December 17.