Ombudsman finds RUC failed to investigate 1969 killings

Marie Anderson
Marie Anderson

The RUC failed to effectively investigate the killings of four people by police officers at the start of the Troubles in 1969, the Police Ombudsman has found.

In a 128-page report published today, Marie Anderson said there were significant operational and investigative failures by the RUC in relation to the deaths of four people during severe disorder in Belfast on the night of 14/15 August 1969.

She concluded that nine-year-old Patrick Rooney, Hugh McCabe aged 20, Samuel McLarnon aged 27, and 28-year-old Michael Lynch, died after being struck by police gunfire during disturbances in the Divis and Ardoyne areas of the city.

The report finds that even allowing for the tumultuous circumstances of the time, the RUC failed to effectively investigate any of the deaths.

The Public Prosecution Service (PPS) has directed that no former officers should be prosecuted due to a lack of evidence 50-plus years after the events.

The report’s main findings include that the RUC’s use of vehicle-mounted machine guns in an area of high-rise housing such as Divis was “fundamentally flawed”.

Mrs Anderson also criticises the manner in which police marksmen fired over 20 shots from the roof of a local police station towards the Divis Flats, and raises concerns that the method used by the RUC to allocate some of the guns involved in the Ardoyne deaths prevented them being linked to individual officers.

Tags: Policing

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