Justice Keegan appoints additional council, Mr Michael McCartan, to “specifically” and “exclusively” deal with military witness issues including tracing.
Ballymurphy Massacre families in court today Wednesday 11th July for another preliminary hearing (PH) in advance of the inquests starting in September. Groundhog day was the feeling as the legal teams reviewed outstanding issues including tracing of soldiers and the ruling on the UVF application for Properly Interested Party (PIP) status, which if granted will give them access to all the documentation, witness statements and they will be able to cross examine witness including family member.
Unfortunately, the Judge will make a ruling on this application at the next PH on the 27th July, but hopefully when the judge has considered all the submissions from the other legal teams she will rule against it. At the last PH Karen Quinliven argued against granting PIP status on the grounds that witness x was not in fact a witness but and third party who was relaying “gossip” and “hearsay” to the court as if it were evidence.
The issue of tracing soldiers remains high on the agenda for families, at every opportunity the MOD have been dragging their heals in relation to identifying those responsible for the shootings in Ballymurphy, losing cipher lists, not knowing the postal address for Veteran’s associations and breaching deadlines set by the coroner to produce information and on almost every occasion handing in information the day before or the morning of the hearing making it impossible for the legal representatives for the next of kin to respond to until the next hearing again delaying the process.
The Coroner Justice Keegan today acknowledged again that the MOD keep breaching deadlines and set the 20th July as the final date for producing information in relation to tracing of soldiers, she also acknowledged that the tracing of military witnesses was of utmost importance and appointed addition council, Mr Michael McCartan, to “specifically” and “exclusively” to deal with military witness issues.
This is good news for families who have been arguing all along for additional resources to be put in place to trace soldiers, wither that be a tracing agency or the appointment of additional council who’s role is to focus on tracing soldiers exclusively.