THE ATTORNEY general for England and Wales is to decide whether new inquests can be held into the deaths of IRA men shot by special forces.
The SAS shootings at Loughgall Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) station in Co Armagh 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.
Jeremy Wright QC is to decide whether fresh inquests should be blocked in case highly 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 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: “The advocate general for Northern Ireland (the attorney general for England and Wales Jeremy Wright QC) will now consider these requests and take the decision on whether to direct that fresh inquests are conducted.”
Northern Ireland’s attorney general John Larkin QC requested the new inquests after the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg found the men’s human rights had been violated.
Disputed circumstances surrounding how they died would be the subject of investigation by a coroner after previous conflicting reports.
The NIO said: “The advocate general 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.
“The secretary of state’s decision in no way reflects a lack of trust in the role of the attorney general for Northern Ireland.”