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Military Reaction Force probe police urge shooting witnesses to come forward

Published 02/12/2015

Daniel Rooney was fatally shot in the St James Crescent area of West Belfast in 1972 (Police Service of Northern Ireland)

Detectives investigating the activities of a controversial Army unit during the Northern Ireland Troubles have appealed for witnesses to two killings and a series of other shootings to come forward.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland's Legacy Investigations Branch (LIB) is probing allegations that members of the secretive Military Reaction Force (MRF) carried out random and unjustified shootings during the conflict.

Officers have issued a direct appeal for information about a series of shootings in Belfast in 1972. They have also urged former members of the MRF to come forward.

The investigation by LIB was triggered after a referral by Northern Ireland's Director of Public Prosecutions Barra McGrory.

Detective Chief Inspector Peter 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."

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 May 12 1972

:: The fatal shooting of 18-year-old Daniel Rooney and shooting of an 18-year-old man in the St James Crescent area of West Belfast on September 26 1972

:: The shooting of two brothers, aged 19 and 30, in the Whiterock Road area of West Belfast, at approximately 8am on April 15 1972

:: The shooting of an 18-year-old man in the Glen Road area of West Belfast at approximately 9pm on May 6 1972

:: The shooting of a 15-year-old boy outside a disco at Oliver Plunkett School, Glen Road, Belfast, at approximately 11.50pm on May 7 1972

:: The shooting of an 18-year-old man in the Slievegallion area of West Belfast at approximately 11.30pm on May 12 1972

:: The shooting at a 34-year-old man in the Silvio Street area of North Belfast at approximately 12.20pm on May 26 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 June 22 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 May 9 1972

Mr 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.

"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."

Anyone with information is urged to contact detectives on 028 92589128 or via email on LIBEnquiries@psni.pnn.police.uk

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