Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

IRA man's family threaten legal action over Haass proposals failure

Dr Richard Haass and Professor Meghan O'Sullivan after the final day of talks on New Year's Eve in Belfast
Dr Richard Haass and Professor Meghan O'Sullivan after the final day of talks on New Year's Eve in Belfast

The Government is facing legal action over its alleged non-implementation of the Haass proposals for dealing with Northern Ireland's troubled past, it emerged today.

 

Lawyers for the family of an IRA man shot dead by soldiers more than 40 years ago claimed there is still an obligation to properly investigate controversial deaths despite failed attempts to reach political agreement.

The prospect of new proceedings came as a separate High Court challenge to the probe into the killing of Stan Carberry was withdrawn.

The 34-year-old member of the IRA's Belfast Brigade was shot in disputed circumstances in west Belfast in November 1972.

Army witnesses later told an inquest they fired back after gunfire came from the vehicle he was in.

But others have claimed Carberry was shot in the back when he had his hands raised.

His family believe the shooting was unjustified and amounted to murder.

They sought a judicial review over the investigation undertaken by the special police unit set up to examine unsolved killings.

It was alleged that the Historical Enquiries Team (HET) probe failed to interview and take evidence from soldiers present.

But after papers were lodged in the High Court last year a watchdog report by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) found that the HET treated cases with state involvement less rigorously than others.

Mr Justice Treacy was told the challenge brought by the Carberry family has now been rendered academic.

Frank O'Donoghue QC stressed, however, that they still feel the death has not been properly examined.

Referring to the Haass political talks on flags, parades and the past which ended without a deal, Mr O'Donoghue said the process involved a proposed scheme which appeared to meet requirements for an effective, human rights-compliant investigation.

This was not objected to in principle by any of the local political parties, the court heard.

"The fact that the local political representatives have failed to identify a common way forward for the investigation of such deaths does not dilute or avoid the unconditional obligation that remains on the United Kingdom Government to put in place a process that permits an Article 2 compliant investigation to occur," Mr O'Donoghue said.

"The family looks forward to the implementation to the scheme that was proposed by the Haass proposals, or some other equivalent process,  as part of the discharge by the state of its Article 2 European Convention on Human Rights obligations; failing which the family will be left with no alternative but to apply to this court de novo seeking an appropriate declaration in relation to the failure of the State to put in place the necessary arrangements and procedures."

On that basis Mr Justice Treacy agreed to dismiss the legal challenge.

Outside the court the family's lawyers, KRW Law, and campaign group Relatives for Justice confirmed the Carberry family's new legal move.

In a joint statement they claimed the Northern Ireland Office has refused to accept it faces a joint onus to put an effective mechanism in place for dealing with unresolved killings.

"We dispute what we say is an abdication of their responsibility and to that end we have today put the Secretary of State, the NIO and the PSNI on notice of our intention to issue judicial review proceedings," it said.

"At the heart of this case is the family's attempt to give judicial effect to the Haass proposal on the past."

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