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Military Reaction Force probe: 'Breakthrough' in PSNI investigation into 1972 killings of unarmed civilians

Police probing claims Army's secretive unit shot unarmed civilians in Northern Ireland

Published 02/12/2015

Police are investigating the fatal shooting of 44-year-old Patrick McVeigh in 1972
Police are investigating the fatal shooting of 44-year-old Patrick McVeigh in 1972

The detective leading an investigation into the activities of controversial British Army unit, the Military Reaction Force (MRF), has said there has been a potential breakthrough.

Det Ch Insp Peter Montgomery, from the PSNI's Legacy Investigation Branch, said a witness has given the investigation team significant new information. As a result, he said, there is a new line of inquiry.

Earlier he appealed for witnesses to two killings and a series of other shootings in 1972 to come forward.

Det Ch Insp Montgomery said: "We have been carrying out enquiries in relation to a number of shooting incidents between April and September 1972, during which two people were killed and a number of others were injured.

"We are looking at these incidents as part of an overall investigation into the activities of the Military Reaction Force at the time.

"We know these events took place a long time ago and we know they took place during one of the worst years of the Troubles when many shootings occurred but we believe there are people out there who can help us progress this investigation and we are appealing to them to contact us."

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The incidents under investigation are:

  • The fatal shooting of 44-year-old Patrick McVeigh and shootings of four other men, aged 18, 25, 26 and 41, in the Riverdale Park area of west Belfast on 12 May, 1972
     
  • The fatal shooting of 18-year-old Daniel Rooney and shooting of a 18 year old man in the St James Crescent area of west Belfast on 26 September, 1972
     
  • The shooting of 2 brothers, aged 19 and 30, in the Whiterock Road area of west Belfast, at approximately 8am on 15 April, 1972
     
  • The shooting of an 18-year-old man in the Glen Road area of west Belfast at approximately 9pm on 6 May, 1972
     
  • The shooting of a 15-year-old boy outside a disco at Oliver Plunkett School, Glen Road, Belfast, at approximately 11:50pm on 7 May, 1972
     
  • The shooting of an 18-year-old man in the Slievegallion area of west Belfast at approximately 11:30pm on 12 May, 1972
     
  • The shooting at a 34-year-old man in the Silvio Street area of north Belfast at approximately 12:20pm on 26 May, 1972
     
  • The shooting of four men, aged 18, 19, 21 and 28, in the Glen Road area of west Belfast, at approximately 12 midday, on 22 June, 1972
     
  • An incident during which a white Austin Morris vehicle, VRM COI8368, was shot at by a male who got out of what is believed to have been a stalled vehicle in the Kashmir Road area of West Belfast at approximately 2pm on 9 May, 1972 

Detective Chief Inspector Montgomery added: "Some of these incidents have been investigated before and people have been arrested or appeared in court in relation to some of them. There are also others which have not been investigated until now.

Police are probing the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Daniel Rooney
Police are probing the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Daniel Rooney

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"But in order to progress this investigation, I need as much information from the public as possible. I am appealing to anyone who witnessed any of the shootings or anyone who has any further information in relation to them to come forward and talk to us. 

"I also want to speak to former members of the MRF who served in Northern Ireland and would ask them to  come forward and speak to my officers.

"I appreciate these incidents took place a long time ago but I believe there are people in the community and elsewhere today who were witnesses to them, remember them or talked about them. I need their help to progress this part of the overall investigation. I need the help and the support of the local community so if you think you can help, please contact us on 028 92589128, or email us on LIBEnquiries@psni.pnn.police.uk."

PSNI
PSNI "need as much information from the public as possible"

Two years ago, the BBC's Panorama programme broadcast claims by former MRF soldiers that their unit had killed unarmed people while 'hunting the IRA'.

PSNI have been carrying out enquiries in relation to a number of shooting incidents between April and September 1972
PSNI have been carrying out enquiries in relation to a number of shooting incidents between April and September 1972

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