IRA inquest delay of 17 years ‘proof of need for revamp’
The case of a west Belfast man whose inquest has still to be completed nearly two decades after his death has been used as an example of the need to revamp the system.
IRA man Pearse Jordan was shot dead by the RUC in disputed circumstances on the Falls Road in November 1992.
An inquest jury was sworn in two years later, but the case was frustrated by issues over the disclosure of sensitive information and was eventually abandoned.
It is one of several so-called legacy inquests which have yet to be completed.
A seminar was held yesterday by the Northern Ireland Law Commission focusing on coroners and inquest law. The commission chairman Mr Justice McCloskey remarked on the spiralling costs from continued delays and undue legal complexities.
One of the most contentious cases is that of Mr Jordan, who was killed by an RUC officer after the stolen car he was driving was involved in a collision with a police vehicle. Last week it emerged his inquest has been further delayed and won’t be heard until 2012.
While he didn’t refer to Mr Jordan directly, Mr Justice McCloskey did highlight how the case has been the subject of a House of Lords ruling.
“One of the inquests belonging to the legacy group actually began almost 17 years ago before a sworn jury and continued intermittently, until its abandonment,” he told the seminar.
“The death in question occurred some two years before the inquest began.
“Some 15 years after the death, the House of Lords observed that this inquest had been dogged by delay. Four years later it has still not taken place. This simple fact must, inevitably, stimulate reflection on the part of all concerned, including the superior courts.”
The longest legacy inquest waiting times:
Samuel Marshall: Shot by the UVF in Lurgan, died March 7, 1990
Martin McCaughey and Desmond Grew: Shot by the SAS near Loughgall, died October 9, 1990
Peter Ryan, Tony Doris and Lawrence McNally: Shot by the SAS in Coagh, Co Tyrone, died June 3, 1991