Belfast Telegraph

Inquest into IRA trio shot by SAS near Coagh to go ahead

By Adrian Rutherford

An inquest into the deaths of three IRA men shot dead by the SAS more than two decades ago is finally due to begin next year.

Lawrence McNally, Peter Ryan and Tony Doris died in a hail of gunfire after being ambushed as they travelled through Coagh in a stolen car in June 1991.

The IRA later said the trio were on "active service".

It is one of several incidents where republicans died in controversial circumstances at the hands of security forces during the 1980s and early 1990s which are still awaiting full inquests.

Yesterday, senior coroner John Lecky said it was his intention to hold an inquest next autumn.

The hearing, which is due to open on September 1, is expected to last at least four weeks.

Speaking afterwards, Mr Ryan's cousin Tarlagh Connolly said he was unhappy at the delay.

"This happened 22 years ago and we have been fighting this case for the past 12," he said.

"We will be following this through but it is another year, which is ridiculous." The men, part of the IRA's East Tyrone brigade, were ambushed in a dawn raid in Coagh on June 3, 1991. It was claimed the trio were preparing to assassinate a high-profile UDR officer.

The car they were travelling in was raked by up to 200 bullets, with the ferocity of gunfire causing it to burst into flames.

The preliminary hearing in Belfast was told the deaths are being investigated by the Historical Enquiries Team, but that its report is not complete.

Barrister Fiona Doherty, who is acting for two of the men's families, said it was not necessary to wait until the HET publishes its findings.

The venue for the inquest has still to be decided. A decision on whether the inquest will take place with a jury will be made at a later date.

BACKGROUND

IRA men Lawrence McNally (38), Peter Ryan (37) and Tony Doris (21) were shot dead in Coagh in a stolen car in June 1991. It is believed the trio were preparing to carry out a terrorist attack. At the time the DUP MP for the area William McCrea said: "They have fallen into the pit they had planned for others and justice has been done."

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