Permission given to include police in civil action over SAS killings

Relatives suing over shootings in Loughgall, 27 years ago were granted High Court permission to add the Chief Constable as a second defendant in the lawsuit

Undated handout photos of the eight-man IRA unit killed in a shoot out with SAS soldiers following the bombing of the Loughgall RUC station, County Armagh, in May 1987, (clockwise from top left) Gerard O’Callaghan, 29, Antony Gormley, 25, James Lynagh, 32, Eugene Kelly, 25, Declan Arthurs, 21, Patrick McKerney, 32, Seamus Donnelly, 21 and Patrick Kelly, 25.  Photograph: PA Wire

Undated handout photos of the eight-man IRA unit killed in a shoot out with SAS soldiers following the bombing of the Loughgall RUC station, County Armagh, in May 1987, (clockwise from top left) Gerard O’Callaghan, 29, Antony Gormley, 25, James Lynagh, 32, Eugene Kelly, 25, Declan Arthurs, 21, Patrick McKerney, 32, Seamus Donnelly, 21 and Patrick Kelly, 25. Photograph: PA Wire

Wed, Jan 8, 2014, 01:00

A civil action against the UK’s Ministry of Defence over the SAS killings of eight IRA men has now been widened to include the police.

Relatives suing over the shootings in Loughgall, Co Armagh, 27 years ago were granted High Court permission to add the Chief Constable as a second defendant in the lawsuit.

The decision could have major significance for other so- called legacy cases, according to one of the lawyers involved.

Proceedings were first issued against the MoD over the ambush that inflicted the IRA’s largest loss of life during the conflict.

Undercover soldiers killed eight members of the Provisionals’ East Tyrone unit in May 1987 as they approached Loughgall RUC station with a bomb in a hijacked digger.

Unlawful
The IRA men shot were: Jim Lynagh, Pádraig McKearney, Gerard O’Callaghan, Tony Gormley, Eugene Kelly, Patrick Kelly, Séamus Donnelly and Declan Arthurs. A civilian, Anthony Hughes, also died and his brother was wounded.

Lawyers representing the families of some of the IRA men who died claim the killings were unlawful.

With the RUC’s Mobile Support Unit also believed to have played a role in the operation, they returned to court in an attempt to have the force’s successor joined to the action.

An application was brought in the name of Declan Arthurs’s father, Patrick. It was argued that a report into the ambush referred to it as an SAS/RUC operation throughout. On that basis Master Bell ordered that the Chief Constable of the PSNI, as successor in title to the Chief Constable of the RUC, be added as a defendant in the action.

Outside court Mr Arthurs’s solicitor Kevin Winters stressed the potential implications of the ruling: “This is important not just for the Loughgall families in their long -running campaign for justice, but on a wider front it’s very significant for legacy litigation generally.

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