The Attorney General is to consider claims in a new book that a west Belfast man who was thought to have committed suicide in prison may have been murdered, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.
Patrick Crawford (22) was found hanging in Long Kesh in June 1973. An inquest at the time ruled that Mr Crawford, known as Paddy Joe, had taken his own life.
A suicide note was found at the scene.
But in a new book, Brendan ‘Darkie’ Hughes claimed Mr Crawford was murdered by an IRA lynch mob, and that his death was made to look like suicide.
He claimed the order for his death — allegedly for breaking in interrogation — was given by Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, who he claimed was the IRA’s Belfast commander at the time.
Mr Adams denies all allegations made in the book, written by veteran journalist Ed Moloney.
West Belfast MLA Alex Attwood, who is a member of the Policing Board, called for a new inquest into Mr Crawford’s death.
“Where fresh evidence or fresh allegations emerge in relation to matters in the past, then those should be open to further investigation or in this case an inquest,” he said. “If there is an opportunity to establish more fully what happened with this young man then it’s something our party would support unequivocally.”
A Coroner’s Service spokeswoman said reopening an inquest would be a matter for the Attorney General.
“As an inquest into the death of Patrick Crawford was held in 1973 the coroner is functus officio and has no jurisdiction to take any action in relation to the death unless the Attorney General orders a new inquest under the provisions of section 14 of the Coroners Act (NI) 1959,” she said.
“The Coroner’s Service has forwarded the relevant section of Mr Moloney’s book to the Attorney General’s office.”