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Family of killed IRA man suing Ministry of Defence over disputed bomb claims

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Relatives of an IRA man shot dead by a British soldier in west Belfast more than 50 years ago are suing the Ministry of Defence over disputed claims he was throwing a bomb at troops.

Seamus Simpson’s family insist he posed no threat but was allegedly targeted and killed unlawfully because of his role in the republican organisation.

They are seeking damages in an action set for trial at the High Court in December.

Mr Simpson, 21, was shot amid disorder at Rossnareen Road in August 1971, just days after the introduction of internment without trial in Northern Ireland.

According to a report by Historical Enquiry Team (HET) detectives, soldiers came under attack in the area as they attempted to clear a barricade.

At the time Mr Simpson was an intelligence officer within the Provisional IRA’s Belfast Brigade.

The soldier who fired the fatal shot claimed he had been about to throw an explosive device at troops.

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But lawyers representing the family contend that the HET report highlights inconsistencies in the Army’s version of events.

An examination of Mr Simpson’s clothing failed to reveal any traces of explosive residue, and no reference was made to a warning being issued before he was fired upon.

His sister, Susan Simpson, has brought proceedings against the Ministry of Defence by his sister, claiming damages for alleged negligence and misfeasance in public office.

Court papers state: “The family believe the deceased’s death was unjustified and unlawful, the force used was unreasonable and the deceased was targeted because he was in the 2nd Battalion of the IRA.

“The soldiers’ statements support the claim that a verbal warning could have been issued prior to the fatal shooting of the Deceased as he was being observed for some time, and attempts could have been made to arrest him had he posed a legitimate threat.”

Those allegations are now set to come under full judicial scrutiny at a trial listed for a five-day hearing.

Outside court Ms Simpson’s solicitor, Gary Duffy of KRW Law, said: “The family are challenging the narrative of events put forward by the RUC and the Army that Seamus was throwing a bomb when he was killed.

“They believe that he was targeted by soldiers because he was a well-known republican and that he posed no threat (when shot dead).”


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