Fermanagh family will fight on after Legacy Act blow

THE family of Michael Leonard, who was killed by by the RUC over 50 years ago, has said their ‘fight for truth and justice will continue’ after Britian’s Legacy Act has denied them their right for justice.

On Wednesday (May 1), the Attorney General ordered that an inquest should take place into the death of the 24-year-old, but it came just hours before Britain’s Legacy Act ruined their hopes of an inquest.

“This is bitter-sweet for Michael’s [Leonard] family as we have been granted a pathway to justice one day but the British state will steal that from us the next,” said Fr Joe McVeigh, a cousin of the victim.


Brother of the late Mr Leonard, John, praised the Attorney General’s decision which came just hours before the Legacy Act was introduced.

“Like so many other bereaved families who have fought for truth and justice for so long,” he told the Irish News.

“We now face the terrible reality that Britain will not let this inquest go ahead as it wants to protect its killers. Our fight for truth and justice will continue regardless.”

Mr Leomard. a 24-year-old man from Pettigo, was shot in the back and killed by the RUC while crossing the border at Brookhill, Letter in Fermanagh in May, 1973.

His family, including his cousin Fr Joe McVeigh, have been campaigning for the truth regarding his death, with the assistance of the Belfast-based Paper Trail Charity.

As previously reported by the Herald, documents retrieved from Irish government files show the British authorities “lied, denied, and delayed Irish officials seeking basic information” into Mr Leonard’s killing.

The Attorney General, Brenda King, order the inquest into Mr Leonard’s killing after it was revealed that the original inquest did not receive oral evidence from any of the police officers involved in the incident.


It was also viewed that the new evidence brought forward in the form of army logs are capable of casting doubt on the version of events provided to the inquest by the police at the time of the murder.

Hours after Britain’s Legacy Act was introduced, a spokesperson for Fermanagh Sinn Féin vented their frustration that the inquest into Mr Leonard’s death would now not happen.

“The cruelty of Britain’s Legacy Act writ large,” said a Fermanagh Sinn Féin spokesperson.

“[The] Attorney General [Brenda King] orders a fresh inquest into the death of Donegal man Michael Leonard only for Britain to legislate to stop all such inquests hours later.”

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