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Call for inquiry into 1976 bomb deaths linked to loyalist Glenanne Gang

Published 21/01/2016

Robert McGleenan, brother of Gerard McGleenan, pictured at a preliminary hearing for a new inquest
Robert McGleenan, brother of Gerard McGleenan, pictured at a preliminary hearing for a new inquest

A limited inquiry into a loyalist bombing with alleged state collusion in Co Armagh could be heard as early as next year, a lawyer said.

A preliminary hearing in Belfast addressed inquests involving a Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) blast at the Step Inn in Keady in Co Armagh in 1976 during which Catholics Elizabeth McDonald, 38, and Gerard McGleenan, 22, died.

Researchers have claimed the fatalities were among up to 120 cases linked to the activities of a splinter of the loyalist grouping known as the Glenanne Gang and a legal challenge has been mounted surrounding links between the cases.

A judge pointed to an apparent divergence of views on paper between the families of Ms McDonald and Mr McGleenan on the best way to proceed, with the McGleenans believing an inquest largely confined to the bombing was possible by next year.

Adam Straw, barrister for the family of Ms McDonald, said: "We seek an inquest into state collusion. We think that that inquiry can itself be limited in terms of the issues it investigates and strictly limited in terms of the material it looks at and limited in terms of the disclosure it seeks.

"Much of the work has already been done by the Historical Enquiries Team (HET) process.

"It would be very far from an examination of the circumstances of every one of the deaths that were part of the Glenanne series.

"The number of deaths that may have issues to be investigated will be far more limited than the up to 120 that have been suggested."

Lord Justice Weir said he was seeking an indication of what other cases the families felt will be drawn in by next Friday.

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