Michael Leonard's Family Ciarán MacAirt and Councillor Naughton with An Tánaiste Micheál Martin

Family of RUC Murder Victim Michael Leonard Meet Tánaiste

Press Release: Family of RUC murder victim, Michael Leonard, met with An Tánaiste, Micheál Martin.

The family of Donegal civilian, Michael Leonard, who was murdered by a Royal Ulster Constabulary patrol in 1973, held an hour-long meeting with the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Tánaiste Micheál Martin in Government Buildings, Dublin today (Friday 24th February 2023).

The family met with the Minister (1) to brief him about the failure of the Office of the Police Ombudsman to investigate the police killing over the last 3 years; (2) to find out how the Irish Government will support the family’s fight for a new inquest; (3) to present him with an updated family report by Michael’s cousin, Fr. Joe McVeigh and the charity Paper Trail, that includes critical new evidence in the murder.

Michael Leonards Family Ciarán MacAirt and Councillor Naughton with An Tánaiste Micheál Martin
Michael Leonard's Family, Ciarán MacAirt and Councillor Naughton with An Tánaiste Micheál Martin

The meeting follows the failure of the Office of the Police Ombudsman to advance its investigation in over three years which in turn has delayed a new inquest before Britain enacts its controversial Legacy Bill and shuts down all conflict-related legal cases.

New evidence that the family presented in 2019 proved that Michael was not shot accidentally with a single shot as the RUC alleged, but deliberately targeted and shot at multiple times by his police killers before he could reach the sanctuary of the border and his home in Pettigo, County Donegal, on 17th May 1973.

The new evidence discovered by charity Paper Trail in the new report provides further admissions by the British Armed Forces that Michael was deliberately targeted and shot dead by the RUC. This includes a British Army Intelligence Summary from RUC Divisions L & M, recorded on 22nd May 1973 which also included lies about Michael:

“The RUC… recognised Michael LEONARD a suspected member of the PIRA [Provisional Irish Republican Army] from Pettigo. When they went to question him he ran off despite the fact that he was warned to stop. He then drove off in his car and the police fired two shots at the vehicle which did not stop. The police followed up in a landrover and fired one more shot which struck LEONARD, who later died.”

British Army Situation Report (SITREP): 0300 hrs 18th May 1973
British Army Situation Report (SITREP): 0300 hrs 18th May 1973

The family were accompanied by Fr Joe McVeigh, Michael’s cousin, along with Ciaran MacAirt from the charity Paper Trail (Legacy Archive Research), and Donegal County Councillor Michael Naughton.


Michael’s brother, John Leonard, said:

“The family were very grateful for An Tánaiste to make the time to hear the terrible circumstances of Michael’s murder by the RUC and offer his support as we prepare for the 50th anniversary of my brother’s killing.

Michael’s cousin, Fr. Joseph McVeigh said:

“50 years is far too long for any family to wait for truth and justice. Michael’s poor parents went to their grave without any. The RUC murdered Michael on 17th May 1973 and then lied to the family, the Irish Government and the Coroner. We are grateful for An Tánaiste’s support for a new inquest so we can finally obtain a measure of justice.”

Ciarán MacAirt of Paper Trail said:

“An Tánaiste and the Irish Government are well aware that Britain’s pernicious Legacy Bill threatens the family’s basic human rights. The family welcomed An Tánaiste’s personal support and advice in the face of the intransigence of the British authorities.”

Speaking after the meeting with Tánaiste Micheál Martin, Councillor Micheál Naughton of Donegal County Council said:

“We hope that this meeting marks a huge step forward to getting justice for Michael as the Minister was live to the details of the case and offered the family his support for a new inquest.       /ENDS


For further comment, contact Ciarán MacAirt info@papertrail.pro;

For further information on Michael’s murder, read New Evidence in RUC Murder of Donegal Victim

From Irish News: Police Admit To Murder of Michael Leonard 

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