AG orders new inquest into Thomas Friel’s death

Thomas Friel.
Thomas Friel.

A new inquest has been ordered into the death of a Derry man killed by a rubber bullet more than forty years ago.

Thomas Friel, one of a family of ten, was aged just 21 when he was hit by a rubber bullet fired at close range by a British soldier in Creggan in May 1973.

The North’s Attorney General John Larkin has now authorised a fresh inquest after examining declassified documents - uncovered by Derry-based human rights group, the Pat Finucane Centre (PFC) - which were withheld from the original inquiry.

They show that British officials not only knew rubber bullets could be lethal but also that the testing of the weapon had been rushed.

The Attorney General says the documents “represent potentially relevant material which could usefully be explored at the new inquest”.

A spokesperson for Thomas Friel’s family said: “We have had years of lies...These documents show the British government knew how dangerous rubber bullets were but were more concerned with the cover-up than the people being killed.”

Paul O’Connor, of the PFC, added: “The documents uncovered by the Pat Finucane Centre are just the tip of the iceberg.”