Belfast Telegraph

Week to devise Troubles files plan

A senior coroner has granted police in Northern Ireland a week to present a new plan to end a stand-off on disclosing files on alleged shoot-to-kill incidents during the Troubles.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) had been criticised for a late objection to how documents containing one million pages relating to nine long-delayed inquests were to be processed.

Lawyers for the families objected and after Coroner John Leckey gave Chief Constable Matt Baggott one week to give an explanation, the police responded by seeking time to present a timetabled plan to resolve the issue.

The preliminary hearing in Belfast heard police believed they could present a proposal which would see the documentation issue dealt with by the end of the year, allowing the long-awaited probes to begin in 2013.

The cases involve six people, including IRA members and a Catholic teenager, shot by security forces around Lurgan and Armagh in 1982 amid claims there was a deliberate intention to kill them.

The coroner will also examine the deaths of three Royal Ulster Constabulary officers in a bomb blast weeks earlier, an attack allegedly carried out by the IRA men who were subsequently gunned down and therefore seen as a potential motivation for the claimed shoot-to-kill policy.

Fiona Doherty, representing two of the police shooting victims, said she had little choice but to accept the proposal.

"It seems that the PSNI are prepared to come up with a more detailed proposal," she said. "We are where we are, but we have been coming to these preliminary hearings since 2007 and I am not really at all clear what the police have been doing for five years."

She added: "We really have no choice but to say that we accept the proposal for adjournment. All the cards are in the police hands."

A lawyer representing the police said of the task to prepare the major collection of documentation: "Work has continued apace throughout and will continue."

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