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CORONER'S ANGER AT INQUIRY DELAY; Leckey 'embarrassed' by 30yr process.

Byline: MICHAEL MCHUGH

NORTHERN Ireland's senior coroner has expressed embarrassment at the time some inquests are taking. And John Leckey said those into the London bombings of 2005 had been dealt with more quickly.

Full hearings into the deaths of republicans and police officers killed in disputed circumstances in Mid Ulster 30 years ago may not begin for months or years, lawyers told a coroner's court.

Delays have dogged the disclosure of documents used in deciding which witnesses to call or issues to address.

The coroner's service is still awaiting a separate decision from Stormont on funding for an investigator to consider detailed files dating back decades.

Mr Leckey said: "When I look back at how long ago I started this process, it is 2007, and we are seven years on.

"Looking at how difficult inquests have been held in England I feel embarrassed, the London bombings, Princess Diana." The coroner's court in Belfast was considering legal matters surrounding inquests into nine deaths affected by alleged security services' shoot-to-kill policies.

They included Gervaise McKerr, an IRA man shot by a RUC unit in 1982. The PSNI has come in for flak over protracted delays in disclosing documents.

An NIO spokeswoman said: "The minister is aware of the coroner's comments. It would be inappropriate to comment further, as proceedings are ongoing."

A Department of Justice spokesman said: "Work is ongoing to create a scheme to recruit suitable investigators to support coroners in particular inquests."

irish@mgn.co.uk
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Feb 7, 2014
Words:247
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