Loughgall victim’s wife ‘delighted’ with ruling

Loughgall families, including Brigid Hughes (centre), widow of innocent civilan Anthony, attend a Judicial review at the High Court in Belfast regarding inquests into the deaths of their family members
Loughgall families, including Brigid Hughes (centre), widow of innocent civilan Anthony, attend a Judicial review at the High Court in Belfast regarding inquests into the deaths of their family members

The widow of a Caledon civilian shot dead with eight IRA men in Loughgall, is “delighted” she has been given leave to argue for a fresh inquest.

Brigid Hughes, wife of Anthony, was told at the High Court in Belfast on Thursday that she can challenge the Secretary of State’s intervention on whether to order new inquests in the case.

Anthony Hughes died in May 1987 when he was innocently caught up in what proved to be the largest loss of life suffered by the republican movement during the Troubles.

The IRA men who died in the attack were Jim Lynagh, Padraig McKearney, Gerard O’Callaghan, Tony Gormley, Eugene Kelly, Patrick Kelly, Seamus Donnelly and Declan Arthurs.

Last year, Mr Hughes’ family received a full government apology, confirming he was entirely innocent of any wrongdoing.

Welcoming the ruling of Mr Justice Treacy on Thursday at Belfast High Court, Mairead Kelly, sister of one of the IRA men Patrick Kelly, told the TIMES that Brigid Hughes wished to convey her delight at the outcome.

“Brigid would like to express that she is absolutely delighted and feels that this ruling is another step towards finding out the truth about the death of her husband and the injuring of her brother-in-law Oliver.”

Mairead Kelly added: “We are also quite sad today, however, because we have once again had to go through the courts to fight for the truth about something which should never have happened.

“This case falls under the Article 2 Right to Life legislation and it is very important because it opens up so many complex issues.

“The next hearing has been scheduled for May 11 and it will be up to the judge then to rule on how long he takes to make a decision on it.

“The only proper thing in our opinion is to grant a fresh inquest into these cases. That is the only way for the court to allow the truth to come out. The first inquest in 1995 took place with no disclosureand with no right for the families to question or compel the soldiers to come to court.”

Ms Kelly said it was “ridiculous” that the families of those killed at Loughgall almost 28 years ago were still forced to fight for the truth through the courts system.

Northern Ireland Attorney General John Larkin QC had been considering requests for new inquests after the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg found the rights of those killed at Loughgall had been violated.

However, last September Theresa Villiers, Secretary of State, issued a certificate for Jeremy Wright QC, who is also Attorney General for England and Wales, to decide on whether to direct a fresh tribunal into the ambush.

Some of the material in the case was said to be “national security sensitive”.

Lawyers acting for Anthony Hughes’ widow, Brigid, took legal action against the move, arguing that the British Government should have no role.