Youth’s death: Sister disgusted as shooting inquest stalled

Manus Deery was aged 15 when he was shot dead by a British soldier in the Bogside in May, 1972.
Manus Deery was aged 15 when he was shot dead by a British soldier in the Bogside in May, 1972.

The sister of a Derry youth shot dead by the British army in 1972 has said she is ‘disgusted’ at the decision by coroner John Lecky to suspend new inquests into the deaths that were ordered by Attorney General John Larkin.

Mr. Lecky suspended the hearings and referred the matters back to the Secretary of State on the grounds that he believed the Attorney General had exceeded his powers and that there were ‘national security issues’.

Helen Deery, whose brother Manus was shot dead in May 1972 in the Bogside, said: “This decision is just another assassination of the victims.

“My brother was 15-years-old and was shot dead as he stood eating a bag of chips.

“Where is the national security issue in that?”

She added: “Does this mean that my brother will never be vindicated because it reflects badly on those who killed him - the state?

“All the witnesses to Manus’ death were ready to come forward and tell their story it seems the only people who did not want to come forward was the state.

“Surely Stormont can do something about this. Have they no power even to order inquests into the deaths of people here?”

An obviously upset Helen Deery continued: “Our whole family - our hearts are broken over this.

“For forty years we wanted Manus vindicated and finally in June we got a new inquest and now this.

“I am disgusted, there is no national security involved in the killing of a 15-year-old young fella and these inquests should go ahead.

“Is the state too afraid of what is going to come out; is that what this is about?”

Solicitor for the Deery family Mr. Paddy MacDermott said: “The Deery family are very disappointed at this decision and we are hopeful that when this case goes to the High Court that that court will rule that the Attorney General does have the power to order fresh inquests and that this can be done as soon as possible.”

In February this year the Deery family were critical of an Historical Enquiries Team report (HET) into the death which said the soldier had been justified in firing.

However in June the Attorney General ordered a fresh inquest into the death.

Manus Deery was 15-years-old when he was shot dead by a British soldier on May 19 1972.

At the time the soldiers claimed they were firing at a gunman in the rear of the Bogside Inn during the no-go area, a claim supported by the HET report.

However the family have always maintained that there was no justification for the shooting and witnesses who were in the area at the time all denied seeing any gunman.