The family of RUC murder victim, Michael Leonard, met with officials of the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs.
The family of Donegal civilian, Michael Leonard, who was shot and killed by a Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) patrol in 1973, held an hour-long meeting with officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs (late on Friday 19th November).
The meeting follows continued delay in securing a new inquest for Michael in the north of Ireland and British government threats to shut down all conflict-related legal cases.
New evidence which 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.
British Military archives discovered by the charity Paper Trail recorded that the RUC officers who killed him 200 metres before the border:
“… fired 2 shots at the car which did not stop. They gave chase in a Land Rover and fired another shot which hit him.”
The secret British Military files also included disinformation that Michael had broken through an RUC roadblock and that he and his father were members of the IRA when neither of them were. The new evidence also proved that the British state and RUC lied to the Irish government at the time.
Last month, Fermanagh and Omagh District Council voted to support the family's call for an inquest into the murder.
The family was accompanied by Fr Joe McVeigh, Michael’s cousin, and the family solicitor, Adrian O’Kane from Pat Fahy Solicitors, along with Ciaran MacAirt from the charity Paper Trail (Legacy Archive Research), and Donegal County Councillor Michael Naughton.
Speaking after the meeting, Fr. McVeigh said:
“This was a welcome and valuable meeting with the Department of Foreign Affairs as we updated the officials on the disgraceful delay in obtaining justice for Michael. Michael was an unarmed civilian from Donegal murdered by the Royal Ulster Constabulary just as he was about to drive across the border to his home in Pettigo."
"In the light of new evidence uncovered by Paper Trail - which proved that the RUC fired multiple, deliberate shots at him and then lied to the Coroner at the original inquest - a new inquest is necessary."
"Michael’s poor parents went to their grave without truth or justice for their son. His siblings are not going to stand for any further delay just because Britain wants to protect its killers.”
Paper Trail's Ciarán MacAirt said:
This was an important meeting with DFA which allowed Michael's family to tell his story and for Paper Trail to present the new evidence. Michael Leonard was an Irish citizen, murdered by a foreign police force, and that police force lied to the Coroner, public and Irish government."
Fr. Joe McVeigh and Paper Trail also released a report called The Murder of Michael Leonard
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The author Ciarán MacAirt is donating all of the profits of his book, Trope: Essays and Articles, to Paper Trail and its work with victims and survivors of the conflict. Trope features some of his ground-breaking discoveries and represents a personal journey as he trudges across the killing ﬁelds of World War 1 to the back-streets of Belfast where death-squads roamed. Foreword by Father Sean McManus, international human rights activist, author, and President of the Irish National Caucus.