Northern Ireland Attorney General calls for fresh police investigation into New Lodge Six shootings
The Attorney General for Northern Ireland has called for a fresh police investigation into the killings of six men believed to have been shot by the British Army in Belfast in 1973.
Three of the men were members of the IRA but none of the men were armed when they were shot in the New Lodge area.
John Larkin has said the killings of the men, known as the New Lodge Six, were not properly investigated at the time.
The men were killed in two separate shooting incidents.
James McCann and James Sloan, both aged 19, were shot at 11.45pm on February 3 1973. They were shot by a gunman firing from the back seat of a car at the junction of the New Lodge Road and the Antrim Road. Both were members of the IRA.
The other four men were shot a short distance away shortly after midnight by soldiers believed to have fired from the top flats overlooking the New Lodge road.
Anthony Campbell had been out celebrating his 19th birthday, he was shot 17 times. The teenager was also a member of the IRA.
Brendan Maguire (32) and John Loughran (35) were said to have been shot as they tried to drag Mr Campbell out of the line of fire.
Ambrose Hardy (24) was said to have been shot in the head after coming out of a bar while waiving a white cloth.
At the time the army said that soldiers had shot all six men but it was later assumed that loyalist paramilitaries had been involved in two of the killings.
The families of the deceased had asked for an inquest into their deaths but Mr Larkin has gone a step further and asked for a fresh police investigation.
He has asked the Director of Public Prosecutions Stephen Herron to use his role to compel police to reopen the investigation.
The BBC have reported that the Attorney General's position was revealed in a letter to Relatives for Justice from a solicitor representing Mr Larkin.
"These deaths ought to have been properly investigated. A case of alleged deliberate killing of multiple persons such as this... would have required a properly-focussed police investigation," the letter states.
"Given that an inquest is not designed as a substitute for a proper criminal justice investigation, the Attorney General does not think that directing an inquest now would contribute materially to identifying and punishing the perpetrator or perpetrators of these killings or be otherwise advisable."
The Public Prosecution Service has confirmed that it is considering Mr Larkin's request to order a police investigation into the killings.
Sinn Fein MLA Caral Ni Chuiilin paid tribute to the families of those killed and their campaign for justice.
“In the absence of a proper police investigation the families organised a community inquiry into the deaths of the New Lodge Six with international lawyers and human rights activists coming together to investigate the circumstances of the killings," the North Belfast MLA said.
“The community inquiry found that none of the deceased or the wounded were armed at the time of their shooting or acted in a manner which presented a threat.
“The police investigation which has been called for by the Attorney General has the opportunity to bring truth and justice to the families of these men and it is my hope they will finally get truth and justice."
Belfast Telegraph Digital