Duffy family apply for fresh inquest into father’s death

Relatives carry the Tricolour-draped coffin of Patrick Duffy from St. Columba's Church, Long Tower in November 1978.
Relatives carry the Tricolour-draped coffin of Patrick Duffy from St. Columba's Church, Long Tower in November 1978.

The daughter of Patrick Duffy, who was killed by the S.A.S. in Derry in 1978, believes a fresh inquest into her father’s death will deliver justice.

An application for a fresh inquest into Mr. Duffy’s death was submitted to the Attorney General for Northern Ireland on Monday morning by Belfast solicitors’ firm, Harte, Coyle and Collins on behalf of the Duffy family.

Derry man Patrick Duffy, who was killed by the S.A.S. in Derry in 1978.

Derry man Patrick Duffy, who was killed by the S.A.S. in Derry in 1978.

Patrick Duffy’s daughter, Martina Duffy was 16 years-old when her father was shot up to 14 times by British state operatives in Maureen Avenue in November 1978.

Mr. Duffy, a Provisional I.R.A. auxiliary volunteer, who was 50 years-old at the time of his death, was shot dead in an unoccupied house containing weapons and bomb making equipment.

The Duffy family and the Provisional I.R.A. insisted Mr. Duffy was unarmed at the time of his death.

At the time of Mr. Duffy’s death the then Bishop of Derry, Dr. Edward Daly, condemned the British’s Army’s ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy.

Members of the Provisional IRA fire a volley of shots over the coffin of IRA volunteer, Patrick Duffy, on Hogg's Folly in November 1978.

Members of the Provisional IRA fire a volley of shots over the coffin of IRA volunteer, Patrick Duffy, on Hogg's Folly in November 1978.

“My daddy was shot dead and left on the ground like a dog,” Martina Duffy told the ‘Journal’ yesterday.

“My daddy didn’t stand a chance - he was unarmed, they [British state operatives] could have arrested him but instead the were shooting to kill,” she added.

Mr. Duffy had six children and one of his daughters was actually present at the time of his death.

“My mother died 11 years ago and I lost my older brother and sister to cancer this year.

The funeral of Patrick Duffy leaving his home in Clark's Terrace in Derry in November 1978.

The funeral of Patrick Duffy leaving his home in Clark's Terrace in Derry in November 1978.

“As a family we have always wanted justice for what happened to my father. There are so many questions that we haven’t been able to find answers for almost 40 years.

“An inquest into my daddy’s death took place in Derry in 1980 but it was absolute sham. The inquest returned an open verdict but there were so many key witnesses who were never called to give evidence. I’ve even kept the clothes my father was wearing when he was shot because I hoped that someday in the future we would have a proper inquest.”

Martina went on to say that a fresh inquest into her father’s death would help family find answers to many of their questions.

“I hope and pray that the Attorney General agrees to open a fresh inquest into the death of my father - it’s what we as a family have been fighting for for all these years. I believe a fresh inquest will give us the answers we deserve.”

Patricia Coyle, a partner in Harte, Coyle and Collins Solicitors in Belfast said she was “hopeful” a new inquest would be granted.

“If the state is alleged to have shot dead innocent unarmed civilians it should at the very least, in applying the rule of law, guarantee the next of kin an appropriate investigative mechanism into how their loved one was killed,” she said.

“Mr Duffy was unarmed at the time of his killing and shot up to 14 times with two of the shots at close range.

“At the original inquest in December 1980 an application was made to the Coroner to compel the attendance of the soldiers to give evidence and be cross examined. The Coroner did not have the power to do so in 1980. The law changed in 2000 to compel the attendance of security force personnel to give evidence at inquests.

“We are hopeful that the Attorney General will consider the new evidence in this case and direct a fresh inquest. In the event that a fresh inquest is granted, the family will seek reassurance that the inquest system in Northern Ireland is sufficiently reformed and adequately resourced so as to ensure that it is, in fact, an appropriate investigative mechanism.”