Anger after decision to hold Loughgall inquests

PACEMAKER BELFAST 1988'The bullet riddled Hiace van in which 8 IRA men were shot dead by the SAS outside Loughgall RUC station in 1988.
PACEMAKER BELFAST 1988'The bullet riddled Hiace van in which 8 IRA men were shot dead by the SAS outside Loughgall RUC station in 1988.
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A decision to hold new inquests into the deaths of eight IRA men and a civilian shot dead by the SAS in Loughgall has been criticised.

Soldiers opened fire on members of an IRA active service unit who were preparing to bomb the police station in the village in 1987.

It was the biggest single loss of life suffered by the IRA during the Troubles.

Newry and Armagh MLA Danny Kennedy said the “lethal intent” of the heavily armed IRA men was met with justifiable force and that no further attempts to “rewrite history” should be facilitated.

However, the law firm representing those who died said it was a “welcome development” to address “unanswered questions” that remained.

Advocate General for Northern Ireland Jeremy Wright QC had been asked by the government to decide whether new inquests should happen.

“Following careful consideration of a huge amount of material I have come to the decision that new inquests into the Loughgall deaths are justified,” Mr Wright QC said.

“The new inquests will establish who has died, and how, when and where the death occurred. The Coroners Service for Northern Ireland will now take this forward.”

But Mr Kennedy hit back, “This is another attempt to rewrite history and to re-shape some of the key events of the Troubles. They went out with lethal intent and they were met, quite rightly, with force. My view is that they have no grounds whatsoever for complaint.”

Mr Kennedy contrasted the decision with the continuing delay over an inquest into Kingsmills, one of the worst atrocities of the Troubles.

The DUP’S Johnny Buckley added, “It would appear that this Loughgall ambush inquest has taken precedence over other Troubles-related cases such as the delayed inquest into Kingsmills. Whilst I am disappointed I will not be dismayed from continuing to stand shoulder to shoulder with the innocent victims and their families as we seek the truth.”