Belfast Telegraph

Police begin probes into 50 murder bids on ex-soldiers by IRA

By Deborah McAleese

Police have launched investigations into the attempted murders of around 50 British soldiers by the IRA during the Troubles, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.

A team of officers led by a detective inspector have been tasked to probe gun and bomb attacks on former soldiers who served in Northern Ireland throughout the 70s, 80s and early 90s.

Another 100 former soldiers are expected to lodge statements with the PSNI over the next few months regarding attempts on their lives.

The Belfast Telegraph has also learned that officers investigating legacy cases have received new information about the murder of an Army bomb disposal officer in Fermanagh in 1974.

John Maddocks, a 32-year-old married father-of-three, was killed when an IRA bomb that was hidden in a milk churn in a field in Derrylin exploded on December 2, 1974.

It is understood that fresh information about the murder was recently passed onto detectives who are now considering its relevance.

The complaints from the former soldiers about PIRA attacks against them are adding to the PSNI's increasing workload of historical cases.

Currently 53 cases relating to 86 deaths dating back to the early 1970s are being prepared for inquests by the PSNI's Legacy Support Unit. On top of that, the PSNI's Legacy Investigations Branch has almost 1,000 cases to examine or review.

Following the complaints from military personnel, detectives could potentially be faced with hundreds of attempted murders to probe.

One Army veteran - a member of the Veterans Party lobby group - said he planned to ask the PSNI to probe 16 murder bids on him during the early 1990s. Another has already submitted details of four attempted murders.

A spokesman for the Veterans Party said that some of the soldiers who have recently reported incidents to police also intend to lodge complaints with the Police Ombudsman about the alleged failure of officers to investigate the attacks at the time.

He added: "Any attacks into legacy cases should also include attacks on the military. I am also aware that a number of complaints have been sent to the Police Ombudsman about the police investigations, or lack of, at the time."

Meanwhile, the PSNI has advertised for a disclosure manager to deal with the controversial issue of secret files.

They will manage the force's protection of sensitive material pertaining to civil actions, inquests and public inquiries.

It will be up to the disclosure manager to decide what material requires to be considered for protection by way of public interest immunity.

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