Northern Ireland

HET report says Joe McCann shooting was unjustified

Joe McCann's relatives at press conference
Image caption Mr McCann's daughter Aine said that the RUC and PSNI's lack of knowledge was 'incredible'

A new report has found that the Army was not justified in shooting dead an Official IRA man in Belfast during the Troubles.

Joe McCann was shot by soldiers in disputed circumstances in Joy Street in the Markets area close to his home on 15 April 1972.

The review team's report said: "Joe's actions did not amount to the level of specific threat which could have justified the soldiers opening fire in accordance with the Army rules of engagement."

The Historical Enquiries Team has carried out an investigation into his death.

Members of the Parachute Regiment shot Joe McCann several times as he ran away from police in Belfast, a team of detectives said. He was unarmed at the time.

Mr McCann's daughter, Nuala, said: "The shooting of our father was not justified. It was unjustified."

The report also stated that the review team was unable to question the officers present on that day. "The lack of access to their identities has been a major inhibitor in being able to provide a full and comprehensive review of all the circumstances of Joe's death."

Mr McCann's daughter Aine said that the failure of the the PSNI to reveal the identity of the police officers involved on the day was 'shameful': "It has not been possible to question the Special Branch version of events because, incredibly, the RUC then and the PSNI now, claim not to be aware of the identities of the two Special Branch officers that were following Joe that day."

He was one of the Official IRA's most prominent activists in the early days of the Troubles.

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Media captionMervyn Jess reports for BBC Newsline.

At the inquest into his death, soldiers said they had expected him to be carrying a weapon. He was unarmed when shot. It is also thought that he had disguised his appearance.

The HET is a unit of the Police Service of Northern Ireland set up in September 2005 to investigate the 3,269 unsolved murders committed during the Troubles (specifically between 1968 and 1998).

The team aims to bring closure to many bereaved families who still have unanswered questions about the death or disappearance of their loved ones.

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