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Tell us how our son died

By Chris Thornton

The family of a teenager shot by police 25 years ago have appealed for his inquest to proceed as quickly as possible so his elderly parents can hear what happened before it's too late.

The chance of inquests into the "shoot to kill" deaths of 17-year-old Michael Tighe and five republicans improved yesterday when the PSNI dropped decades of objections and agreed to show the top secret Stalker report to Northern Ireland's Senior Coroner, John Leckey.

The report details the investigation by English policeman John Stalker into how Michael Tighe was shot by police staking out a hayshed where IRA explosives were stored in November 1982.

That same month RUC officers killed IRA members Eugene Toman, Sean Burns and Gervaise McKerr, and in December 1982 INLA members Roderick Carroll and Seamus Grew were also shot. All six were unarmed when they were killed.

Mr Stalker was called in to investigate allegations that police set out to kill republicans rather than arrest them.

He was later removed from the investigation in controversial circumstances, and the inquiry was completed by Sir Colin Sampson.

Mr Leckey will begin reading the top secret report - and a further report by Sir Colin Sampson, another English policeman who completed the investigations - under controlled circumstances in a secure police location next month.

But the contents will not be made public.

Mr Leckey told a hearing yesterday that the material is currently "for my eyes only".

The PSNI indicated that they may resist attempts to give the reports wider circulation if Mr Leckey thinks they are needed for the inquests.

That raised concerns about more legal battles delaying the inquests, which have already been on hold for 25 years.

The Tighe family's solicitor, Paddy Moriarty, told yesterday's special hearing in Belfast that the family is "somewhat suspicious" of further delays.

"On a human level, Michael Tighe was the youngest of the six people here," Mr Moriarty said.

"His parents are now elderly and would be concerned that if there are going to be inquests eventually held that they would be plagued by delays for a number of years."

Michael Tighe was not a member of the IRA, but another teen wounded in the shooting - Martin McAuley - later became one of three republican fugitives on the run from Colombia.

Mr Leckey has appealed for McAuley, who is believed to be living in the Republic, to get in touch with him because he is a "crucial witness" .

There were reports that the shooting in the hayshed was taped by MI5.

In his book about his investigation, John Stalker said Michael Tighe had no security record and was a good and considerate son.

He wrote: "Perhaps one day Mr and Mrs Tighe, whose son's death was a bewildering tragedy for them, will learn exactly how and why their 17-year-old son died in a hail of police bullets."

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