Belfast Telegraph

Fresh probe into Army’s killing of Manus Deery (15) in 1972

By Suzanne Breen

The Attorney General has ordered a new inquest into the shooting of a boy by the Army 40 years ago.

The shooting of Manus Deery (15) as he ate chips was one of the most controversial deaths during the Troubles in Londonderry.

The soldier who fired the fatal shot was never prosecuted despite an official admission that the Army’s own ‘yellow card’ guidelines, stating when the military can open fire, were broken.

The teenager’s family have just received a letter from Attorney General John Larkin ordering a fresh inquest into the killing.

Helen Deery, Manus’s sister, told the Belfast Telegraph: “We are absolutely delighted. For 40 years we’ve fought for justice and now we finally seem to be getting somewhere.

“Manus was an innocent child whose young life was brutally taken from him. He did nothing wrong. He wasn’t — as the British Army initially claimed — a gunman. He wasn’t rioting. He was eating a bag of chips and chatting to friends when a soldier opened fire on him.

“My mother’s and father’s lives were destroyed after Manus’s death. They went to early graves. But we pledged to continue our campaign until the truth is told

about our brother and the British Army comes clean.”

The request for a new inquest was made under the Coroners’ Act. The previous inquest returned an open verdict. The family hope this one will conclude that Manus was unlawfully killed.

Manus had just started work in a factory when he was shot dead on May 19, 1972. He received his first pay packet that evening.

“Manus had his own money in his pocket for the first time. Life seemed full of promise,” Ms Deery said.

He was standing with friends at Meenan Square in the Bogside when a soldier, anonymously labelled ‘A’, opened fire from Derry’s Walls, fatally shooting him in the head. Soldier B, who was with him, didn’t fire but said he’d also seen a gunman.

Neither soldier had to appear at the original 1973 inquest. Their depositions — later given to the family — were illegible.

No civilian witnesses were interviewed by the RUC. Nor did the RUC interview the soldiers.

Ms Deery said: “We fought for years to see the RUC investigation file. When we got it, we couldn’t believe it. It contained a statement from our mother ‘Margaret’.

“Our mother’s name was Mary and the RUC had never taken a statement from her.

“It also contained a statement from Manus’s ‘cousin James’. We have no cousin James.”

Ms Deery said that, unlike the first inquest, her family would be legally represented at this one and the soldiers could be called to give evidence and cross-examined.

Background

Nobody was ever prosecuted over the death of Manus Deery on May 19, 1972. The shot was fired by a member of C company, 1st battalion, the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. The Army claimed the soldier opened fire after a gunman was seen.

The first inquest returned an open verdict and his family have fought for answers for 40 years.

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