Inquiry sought after witnesses describe 1969 shootings in north Belfast

The family of a man shot dead in Belfast 30 years ago has called for a full independent inquiry after hearing testimonies from…

The family of a man shot dead in Belfast 30 years ago has called for a full independent inquiry after hearing testimonies from several eyewitnesses in Ardoyne.

Mr Samuel McLarnon (27) died when bullets smashed the living-room window of his home in Herbert Street shortly before midnight during street disturbances on the night of August 15th, 1969.

Mr McLarnon was in the house with his wife, who was four months pregnant, and their two children, two-year-old Samuel and Ann, aged one.

Several people giving evidence at the public meeting at Ardoyne Community Centre on Monday night told a panel, which included the civil rights campaigner Father Des Wilson, of Springhill Community House, Mgr Raymond Murray, chairman of the Relatives for Justice Group, Ms Claire Reilly, chairwoman of the United Campaign Against Plastic Bullets, and Mr Peter Madden, of Madden and Finucane solicitors, that they heard heavy shooting, but not as it was described to the Scarman tribunal.


Mr Peter Madden, the solicitor acting on behalf of the McLarnon family, expressed concern yesterday after hearing an eyewitness confirm hearing heavy shooting and noticing an armoured car on the Crumlin Road.

"The testimony given by some eyewitnesses does raise some very serious concerns. The family wants to know what actions the police took following Scarman's report, which concluded that the RUC was responsible for Mr McLarnon's death."

Mr Madden said the pathologist's report on Mr McLarnon's death also raised concern, including the fact that his age was given as 47 instead of 27. "This could have been a typing error, but there are other more serious discrepancies which we would like examined."

Some 15 people were reported shot in Ardoyne on the night of August 15th, including Samuel McLarnon and Michael Lynch, who both died from their injuries.

The deaths of Mr McLarnon and others have been surrounded by controversy, with the families and eyewitnesses pointing the finger of blame at the RUC and B-Specials. A crowd of loyalists attacked nationalist areas in Belfast at the time of the shooting.

An open verdict was returned at the inquest into Mr McLarnon's death, but the Scarman tribunal, established to investigate the shootings and burning of Catholic homes during August 1969, concluded Mr McLarnon was killed by police fire.

The inquiry also blamed the police for failing to prevent Protestants from burning the homes of Catholics or taking action to protect lives, but cleared the police of the charge that they were a partisan force co-operating with Protestants to attack Catholics.

Mrs Ann McLarnon said she had noticed two men kneeling outside her house before the shooting. The men disappeared after a policeman spoke to them. Minutes later her husband was dead.

"The fellows must have been Protestants because if they had of been Catholics they would have got beaten up," she said.

Her son, Samuel, said he was optimistic the public meeting would form the basis for a new inquiry into the shooting. "For years we have searched for the truth, for answers and for some accountability from those responsible."

Mr McLarnon said the pain of his father's death had not diminished 30 years on. "All our family wants is to see justice being done, and to know why my father was shot dead. If my father was shot by ricochet bullets, as police claim, how come there were three bullet holes in the wall of our home, seven inches apart, behind where my father was standing?"