Verdict shows inquests needed
Posted By: April 11, 2017
Iris News Editorial. Belfast. Tuesday, April 11, 2017
The case of Manus Deery, a 15-year-old boy shot dead by a British soldier in 1972, has underlined the importance of holding proper inquests into Troubles-related deaths, regardless of how long ago they occurred.
After 45 years, his family has achieved a public declaration, by a senior judge, that their brother was completely innocent when his life was cruelly cut short as he stood with friends in an archway on a Derry street.
The teenager was struck in the head by fragments of a bullet that ricocheted off a wall. The bullet had been fired by Private William Glasgow, now deceased, who insisted he aimed at a man armed with a rifle but missed and hit the wall.
An inquest was held into the boy’s death in 1973 which returned an open verdict.
However, his sister Helen embarked on a lengthy campaign to have a second inquest held, which was ordered by Attorney General John Larkin in 2012.
This was a major development for Manus’s family, who wanted to clear his name of any perceived insinuation that he was involved in a paramilitary activity or had even been the gunman referred to by the soldier.
Yesterday coroner Mr. Justice Colton said he had no doubt the boy was blameless.
As he put it: “Manus Deery was a totally innocent victim,’’ who posed no threat to anyone.
For the Deery family, this ruling has provided a total vindication of their push for a fresh inquest.
Not only have they had their brother’s innocence confirmed by a court, they have also heard detailed information about the circumstances of his death.
There was a key moment during the inquest process that meant a lot to the family when the commanding officer of the soldier who fired the fatal shot held an emotional meeting with them to express his sorrow.
These steps are profoundly important for the families of victims.
This case also provides ample evidence that the inquest system has a crucial role to play in addressing legacy deaths.