Belfast Telegraph

Family of 16-year-old murdered by UVF end fight for new inquest

The family of a 16-year old killed by the UVF in 1973 have ended their battle for a fresh inquest into his murder.

Henry Cunningham, a Presbyterian from Co Donegal, died when the UVF fired nearly 40 bullets into the van he and five others were travelling home from work in at Glengormley in August 1973.

The van in which the six workmen of mixed religion were travelling in was being driven by Henry's brother Herbert.

Evidence from the Pat Finucane Centre (PFC) in Londonderry coupled with Historical Enquiries Team information showed one of the weapons used, a Sterling sub-machine-gun, had been stolen from the UDR armoury.

Henry's brother Robert was also injured in the attack and he told the BBC that attempts to secure a new inquest were "futile".

No one has ever been prosecuted over the attack and a previous inquest into Henry's death reached an open verdict.

Robert Cunningham said that his family felt "very, very let down" by Governments on both sides of the border and that they felt they had "reached the end of the road."

"The way the authorities looked at it at the time was probably that we were from Donegal and we didn't know any better at the time," he said.

Sinn Fein MLA Linda Dillon has said the decision was evidence of the impact that the DUP’s blocking of the Lord Chief Justice legacy plans is having on families.

“There has never been a proper police investigation or inquest into his (Henry's) murder," the party’s victims spokesperson said.

“His family have long campaigned for a new inquest to be held and were given renewed hope that this would happen when the Lord Chief Justice put forward his proposals for fresh legacy inquests.

“As First Minister, Arlene Foster blocked the Lord Chief Justice’s plan to resolve the backlog of legacy inquests, denying justice to victims and their families in the process.

Mrs Dillon said that families were suffering due to the inaction.

“This move was subsequently ruled unlawful by the High Court which also reminded the British Government of their legal obligations to provide effective, independent and timely investigations into State killings," the Mid Ulster MLA said.

“Despite this, the funds requested by the Lord Chief Justice have still not been released by the British Government and families continue to suffer as a result.

“It is now well over two years since the Lord Chief Justice forwarded his proposals and it is appalling that families are still suffering because of the DUP and British government prevarication. This needs to end.”

A DUP spokesperson said that all victims deserve a proper and full investigation into the deaths of their loved ones.

“Over 90% of deaths during the troubles were at the hands of paramilitary organisations yet few families have had justice," the spokesperson said.

"We want to see comprehensive proposals for dealing with legacy issues. That is why we called on the Secretary of State to release proposals for consultation to ensure victims could have their views heard. We would encourage all victims to participate in that process.”

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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