‘We didn’t get the truth’ - murdered teenager’s family take legal action against Ministry of Defence

  • Henry Cunningham was 16-years-old when he was killed in 1973
  • His family are now issuing legal proceedings against the Ministry of Defence
  • The weapon used to kill Mr Cunningham had been stolen from a UDR armoury in Lurgan on 23rd October, 1973.
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The family of a 16-year-old shot dead when the UVF opened fire on a van in 1973 has issued legal proceedings against the Ministry of Defence.

Henry Cunningham, from Carndonagh, Co. Donegal, was travelling on the M2 motorway on August 9th 1973, with his two brothers Robert and Herbert and three other men when they were ambushed by three men who opened fire from a flyover.

The late Henry Cunningham.

The late Henry Cunningham.

Speaking at the Pat Finucane Centre, Robert and Herbert said they had instructed human rights lawyers KRW LAW LLP to issue legal proceedings against the Ministry of Defence in order to get the “whole story” of how and why their brother died that day.

The weapon used to kill Mr Cunningham had been stolen from a UDR armoury in Lurgan on 23rd October, 1973.

The Pat Finucane Centre uncovered official documents from the time, which show the MoD were aware of the ongoing loss of weapons from UDR armouries and that it also suspected UDR members were involved in the thefts.

It is now believed those UDR members were also members of mid-Ulster UVF and a portion of the stolen weapons made their way to the UDA in Belfast.

We didn’t get the truth

Robert Cunningham

The gun used to kill Mr Cunningham - a sterling machine gun - was used to kill again, in January, 1974.

Paul O’Connor from the Pat Finucane Centre said documents show that not only was the MoD aware the guns were being taken but was also aware people were being killed as a result.

The family’s solicitor Shane Moorehed said it is the family’s contention that either the MoD was negligent in enabling people to steal weapons from armouries, or there were those working for the MoD who assisted in these thefts.

The family’s action against the MoD is for negligence for failing to protect armouries and/or a claim for negligence in public office as a State agent actively assisted with the loss of weapons.

Mr Robert Cunningham said their action was not about money, but was about getting “justice” for their brother and finding out “the whole story.”

“We didn’t get the truth,” he said.