Belturbet families appeal for fresh inquest into teenagers’ deaths

Geraldine O’Reilly, Patrick Stanley died when car bomb exploded in town in 1972

Solicitors acting for the families of two teenagers killed in a loyalist bombing in Belturbet, Co Cavan in 1972 have lodged an application with the Attorney General seeking new inquests into their deaths.

Nobody has ever been charged with the murders of 15-year-old Geraldine O'Reilly and Patrick Stanley, 16, who died when the car bomb exploded in the Co Cavan town in December 1972.

In their submission to the Attorney General, which has been seen by The Irish Times, KRW Law said fresh inquests would “enable the families of Geraldine O’Reilly and Patrick Stanley an opportunity - for the first and last time - for their right to truth to be given expression through a process authorised by the state in a process of catharsis.”

Margaret Unwin, from the campaign group Justice for the Forgotten, said the O'Reilly and Stanley families contend that "no meaningful inquest was held at the time" and instead it was "merely a formality and provided little information to the families beyond the fact that their loved ones were killed by a bomb explosion.


“Both families say the very least the Government should do is hold a fresh Inquest into these teenagers’ deaths, which would demonstrate that the State places some value on its citizens,” she said.

“An inquest now would be timely as the 50th anniversary of their deaths will occur in December of next year.”

Solicitor Kevin Winters of KRW Law, who represents the O'Reilly and Stanley families, said the applications were the first in a series of pending cases "where we say the State has not complied with its Article 2 European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) obligation to conduct an independent inquiry into the circumstances surrounding unresolved murder investigations.

“We say that each of the cases point to wider systemic State failings to have proper investigations,” he said.

He said he hoped a decision would be issued later this year.

An RTÉ documentary broadcast on the anniversary of their deaths in December revealed that British intelligence about a potential suspect was not passed on to the Irish authorities.

The programme also claimed British Army, RUC and UDR personnel held a secret meeting to discuss border security shortly after the bombing.

However, the minutes of this meeting and other intelligence documents held by the British state are to remain sealed until 2057.

Freya McClements

Freya McClements

Freya McClements is Northern Editor of The Irish Times