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Attorney General for England and Wales Jeremy Wright is to decide whether new inquests can be held into the deaths of IRA men shot by the SAS, it was revealed yesterday.
The shootings at Loughgall Royal Ulster Constabulary station in County Armagh, Northern Ireland, were among the most controversial of the Troubles.
Eight members of the IRA and a civilian were killed during a fierce gun battle on May 8 1987.
Critics argue that the shootings were clear evidence of a shoot-to-kill policy in operation in Northern Ireland and sanctioned by the British state.
The British government has always strenuously denied any such policy existed.
Mr Wright is to decide whether fresh inquests should be blocked in case sensitive national security information is disclosed.
The matter was referred to him by the Northern Ireland Office (NIO).
A statement from the NIO said: “The Secretary of State (Theresa Villiers) is satisfied that there is material held by the government which is both relevant to the decision whether to open fresh inquests in these cases and which is national security sensitive.”
It added that Mr Wright will now consider these requests and take the decision on whether fresh inquests are conducted.
Northern Ireland Attorney General (AGNI) John Larkin requested the new inquests after the European Court of Human Rights found that the dead men’s human rights had been breached.
The NIO said: “The advocate general (for Northern Ireland — England and Wales Attorney General Mr Wright) is an independent law officer in the same way as the AGNI — he will make a decision independent of government.
“All of the options available to the AGNI will be available to the advocate general, including a decision to direct that an inquest should be held.”
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