Belfast Telegraph

Deal over inquests delay row expected

BY ALAN ERWIN

Legal challenges by the families of five men killed by either police, soldiers or loyalist paramilitaries over inquest delays are expected to be resolved, the High Court has heard.

Counsel for the Department of Justice revealed the development as a two-day judicial review hearing was set to get under way.

Proceedings were then adjourned for four weeks to try and deal with all outstanding issues, including claims for damages.

Relatives issued proceedings against the coroner and either the PSNI, Police Ombudsman's Office or Ministry of Defence.

Lawyers for all five families claim their human rights have been breached by the failure to examine the circumstances of each death as soon as possible.

They are seeking a High Court declaration that systemic delays have occurred and an order that immediate inquest dates be set.

The earliest killing under scrutiny is that of Michael Ryan. He was one of three IRA men shot dead by the SAS in Coagh in 1991.

A similar application has been brought on behalf of Catholic man Fergal McCusker (28), shot dead by loyalist paramilitaries in 1998.

Relatives of Neil McConville (21), the first person killed by the PSNI in 2003, are also challenging the inquest situation.

Two further police-related deaths – of James McMenamin (29) in 2005 and Steven Colwell in (23) in 2006 – are to be examined as well.

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