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Loyalist murder victim’s family brands inquest delays ‘unacceptable’

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Delays to an inquest into a loyalist murder in Northern Ireland in 1988 have been branded unacceptable by the dead man’s family.

Gerard Slane, 27, a father-of-three, was shot dead by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) at his home at Waterville Street, west Belfast.

A lawyer for the police told a coroner in the city it would be a year before sensitive papers associated with the case would be ready for her consideration.

The Slane family’s solicitor said previous probes into alleged security force collusion with loyalists had already revealed material.

Paul Pierce said: “This information has been available for some time.

“This is not a case where the agencies have to go searching through archives.

“The material in relation to this matter has been available through the Stevens inquiry, through the Cory report, most recently through de Silva.”

Three Stephens inquiries were led by former Met police commissioner Lord John Stevens and concerned collusion in Northern Ireland between loyalist paramilitaries and state security forces.

Retired Canadian judge Peter Cory later carried out separate investigations into alleged collusion which led to public inquiries.

Prime Minister David Cameron ordered a review by Sir Desmond de Silva into the death of murdered solicitor Pat Finucane, which also touched on the Slane case.

Mr Pierce added: “There is nothing that should come as a surprise or a shock to anyone conducting work on these inquests.”

He said they were approaching the third anniversary of attorney general John Larkin QC’s decision to order a fresh inquest following what the family argued were flaws in the original hearing.

The solicitor said: “The continued delay is unacceptable.”

Mr Slane’s murder led to allegations of collusion between loyalist paramilitaries and the security forces.

Brian Nelson, a UDA man working for British intelligence, was implicated in the shooting during an earlier court case.

He stood trial in connection with a number of murders, including that of Mr Slane.

In 1992, he agreed to plead guilty to five conspiracies to murder and at least four sectarian murder charges against him were dropped.

He was sentenced to 10 years but was released after serving less than half his sentence and spent the rest of his life under a false identity.

He died in 2003.

Mr Slane died after UDA/UFF gunmen burst through the door of his home in the early hours of the morning and opened fire on him.

 

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