McGuinness '˜turned down request' for former IRA men to give evidence

A request to Martin McGuinness seeking permission for former IRA men to give evidence at the inquest of a teenager shot dead by the Army was turned down, a court has heard.

Thursday, 9th November 2017, 5:41 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 9:15 am
The funeral of Seamus Bradley in the Creggan in 1972
The funeral of Seamus Bradley in the Creggan in 1972

Belfast Coroner’s Court was told yesterday that Danny Bradley, whose brother Seamus was killed by soldiers in disputed circumstances in Londonderry in 1972, approached the late Sinn Fein veteran asking if IRA members who witnessed the incident would testify at the inquest.

Mr Bradley has made a written statement ahead of the start of the inquest next month outlining what he saw of the incident in the Creggan area of Londonderry.

In it he claims there were many other witnesses but he has declined to name them.

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David Heraghty QC, representing the Bradley family, told a preliminary hearing in Belfast: “Some of the people he makes reference to he can’t identify because they were masked; some are now deceased; and some, down to their background in paramilitaries, he does not feel safe to provide names.”

The barrister added: “Mr Bradley says he approached Martin McGuinness about this and sought permission and permission wasn’t forthcoming.”

It is understood Mr Bradley made the approach to Stormont’s then-deputy first minister in 2015.

Mr Heraghty did not outline any further details to the court on how the claimed request was handled by Mr McGuinness.

Coroner Judge Kinney acknowledged Mr Bradley’s hesitancy in providing names to the coroner’s court.

But he stressed that key eyewitness evidence may now go unheard at the inquest.

“I understand that Mr Bradley has reluctance in providing names,” he said.

Seamus Bradley, a 19-year-old IRA man, was killed during Operation Motorman - an Army attempt to gain control of republican areas in Belfast and Londonderry that had previously been considered no-go zones for the security forces.

The Army claimed he was shot while he was in a tree and suffered additional injuries as he fell.

His family have alleged he was shot while running from the area and sustained further injuries while in the custody of soldiers.

Before his death earlier this year, Mr McGuinness, an IRA commander in Londonderry at the time of the incident, provided a statement to the coroner outlining the activities of the organisation in the city during Operation Motorman.

He informed the court of his willingness to co-operate with the process and said he would assist in any way he could.

The inquest into Mr Bradley’s death is due to start in Londonderry on December 11.