Doubt cast over hearing of Raymond McCord, Jr. inques

Posted By: November 10, 2023


Distributed to Congress by Irish National Caucus

“Why is the British Government so afraid of the Raymond McCord, Jr.

case—a 22-year-old  Belfast Protestant who proudly wore the uniform

of the Royal Airforce? Because the murder and its cover-up go to 

‘the very top,’ which in the British system is  the King-in-Parliament.”

—Fr. Sean McManus







Raymond McCord, Jr. 22, was found beaten to death at Ballyduff Quarry in 1997 (PA)









Rebecca Black, PA.  Irish News. November 10, 2023

Doubt has been expressed over whether an inquest into the death of a Belfast man in 1997 will be heard.

Raymond McCord, Jr was killed by loyalist paramilitaries in November 1997, aged 22.

Members of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) in the Mount Vernon area of north Belfast are suspected of being involved in his death.

An inquest has never been heard into Mr. McCord’s death.

I am absolutely not blind to the amount of work that needs to be done, but… it’s a bit like the crew of the Titanic looking at the iceberg and doing nothing about it – that’s the sense that one has in relation to the state parties in action.

Now his father, prominent victims campaigner Raymond McCord, said he fears an inquest set to open next year will not take place.

At Belfast Coroner’s Court on Friday, Mr. Justice Stephen Fowler, who has been appointed a coroner in the case, heard arguments that given a May 2024 deadline for inquest set by the Government’s Legacy Act, it is unlikely it will be able to complete.

The Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill, passed earlier this year, will stop inquests and court processes pertaining to Troubles offenses that have not substantively completed their hearings by May 2024.

After that date, those cases will pass over to the new Independent Commission for Reconciliation and Information Recovery.

Andrew Moriarty, acting for the next of kin, criticized the “glacial pace” at which he said police were preparing documentation for the case, even after the passing of the Legacy Act imposing the May 2024 deadline.

He described “effectively zero disclosure” as having been made.

“I am absolutely not blind to the amount of work that needs to be done, but it is an amount of work that has been known about for a particularly long period of time, it’s a bit like the crew of the Titanic looking at the iceberg and doing nothing about it – that’s the sense that one has in relation to the state parties in action,” he said.

He also pointed out that there are several legal challenges to the Legacy Act, as well as an indication from Opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer that the Act could be repealed.

“There is a strong school of thought that the Act will not survive, or will not survive in its totality, that’s something that cannot be ignored,” he said.

“There is this appalling vista whereby if the court took a certain decision today or next week, one can have a situation whereby all work is stopped, tools are downed, and then at some point in time that all have to be resuscitated.”

He added: “There is no doubt that if work is to continue that the work will be punishing… but we do say that work should continue.”

Peter Coll, KC, acting for the Police Service of Northern Ireland, said the inquest will not, in all likelihood, be completed by May 2024, adding: “As the law stands at the moment, an inquest in that position would have to be, by law, closed by the coroner on that date”.

He said further resources for this inquest will mean those resources will not be available for other legacy inquests.

“Yes, if further resources were applied in this case, further work can be done… but one has to question the utility of that kind of approach and whether it makes a material difference in circumstances where we respectfully say, it seems abundantly clear the size of the task at hand, even if you were to give extra resources to it, the case will not complete by May 1,” he said.

He added that there have been a large number of inquests managed to hearing or late stage of preparation for hearing.

“At the moment they are supporting 24 legacy inquests,” he said.

“Attempts have been made to bolster resourcing but it’s only right to acknowledge that the number of inquests actually listed in the next six months could perhaps be considered to be unprecedented in scale.”

Twenty-six years and a day after his murder, the PSNI still has not given the disclosure papers they were instructed by the court to provide to my legal team

Raymond McCord, father of Raymond, Jr.

Mr Coll said issues with resourcing were not only around money but also about human expertise.

“In relation to subject matter experts, there is a limited pool of individuals,” he said.

“Trying to draw the limited resource that is currently available into this inquest, or a hypothetical inquest, has inevitable knock-on effects on other inquests.”

Mr Justice Fowler requested further details about police resourcing.

Another preliminary hearing is set to take place later this month.

Speaking outside court, Mr McCord said: “Today in court I heard once again that the state isn’t ready to have an inquest into the murder of my son Raymond, Jr.

“Twenty-six years and a day after his murder, the PSNI still have not given the disclosure papers they were instructed by the court to provide to my legal team.

“Disgraceful and disgusting… my fight for justice continues irrespective of what the state agencies do or say. I’ll get there.”