The family of Thomas Burns, shot dead by the British army on the 13th July 1972 at Glenpark Street, Belfast, have submitted an application for a fresh inquest to the Attorney General for Northern Ireland into the killing of the innocent civilian. Harte Coyle Collins, acting on behalf of the family, lodged an application yesterday under the Coroners Act asking Mr John Larkin Q.C., the Attorney General for Northern Ireland, to consider directing a fresh inquest into the death of Mr Burns who was shot by British military personnel as he attempted to leave the Glenpark Social Club in Belfast on the 13th of July 1972. Mr Burns was 32 years of age and the father of 4 children in full time employment.
The application to the Attorney General by the family relies upon new information obtained from civilian witnesses by the family’s lawyers and, information communicated to the family by investigators from the now disbanded Historical Enquiries Team (HET). The HET concluded a report into the death before being suspended in 2013 but the report has not yet been released to the family. The report remains in the hands of the PSNI Legacy Investigations Branch. An application to the PSNI to release that report was made by the family’s lawyers in July 2015. The Report was requested by the family in order to assist in an application to the Attorney General for a fresh inquest into their father’s death. In early October 2015 the PSNI LIB indicated that it was now willing to release the report to the family. However at the time of lodging the application to the Attorney General yesterday the HET Report has still not been released.
Patricia Burns, daughter of Thomas Burns said today;
“My father was an ex serviceman who travelled all over the world for 7 years with the Navy before returning to Belfast where he and my mum settled. He was an unarmed Catholic civilian who was shot in cold blood by the British military at an interface area of Belfast on the 13th July 1972. There was no justifiable reason for the shooting. The Inquest into his death which took place at the time was flawed because the soldiers who shot my father dead were not compelled to attend and give evidence. The evidence of the soldiers, which was submitted in statement form only, was also in a state of absolute confusion. We now have new information, some of which was communicated by HET investigators, and other evidence gathered by our lawyers, which completely undermines the original Inquest and it’s findings.
Patricia Coyle, Solicitor & Solicitor Advocate, said today;
“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. 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.”