The Police Ombudsman’s Office has said it is keen to speak to anyone, be they members of the public or former members of the security forces, who were present or have information about a number of deaths which happened during the early part of The Troubles.
The Office is investigating matters connected to the deaths of four people during the early hours of 15 August 1969 in Belfast, following a night of heavy rioting in the Ardoyne and in Divis areas of the city.
They were all referred to the Office for independent investigation by the PSNI’s former Historical Enquiries Team.
The deaths had previously formed part of the considerations of the Scarman Tribunal, which was established to look into ‘the troubles’ in Belfast and Derry/Londonderry during the summer of that year.
The Police Ombudsman’s Office considered the material provided to it by the PSNI, along with the Tribunal findings and other official documentation and concluded that it must initiate an investigation into matters connected to the deaths.
A spokesman for the Office said he is aware the investigation will have its challenges:
“These events in question are almost 50 years ago. The area has changed dramatically and many of the buildings have been demolished. The people who lived and worked there are either no longer with us or, at the very least, are in late middle age.
This is one of the perennial problems in investigating matters from the past. It can be a challenge to find people who witnessed events and we then have to hope they have a clear memory of the incidents in question. But we cannot make the assumption that there is no one out there with new information which would assist us.”
The people who died during the events in question include Patrick Rooney, a 9 year old boy who was shot in the head at around 1am as he lay in his home at St. Brendan’s Path in the Divis complex.
Samuel McLarnon, a 28 year old man was shot in the head in his house at Herbert Street in the Ardoyne, during rioting in the area that evening.
Michael Lynch, also 28, who was killed in the Elmfield/Butler Street area of Ardoyne at around 12:30am as he crossed a street during rioting.
Hugh McCabe, a 20 year old soldier with the Queen’s Royal Irish Hussars and who was home on leave, was shot shortly after midnight at the Whitehall block of flats in the Divis complex.
The Police Ombudsman’s Office has asked anyone with information about any of these incidents to contact members of its Historical investigations team. The telephone number to call is 0800 345 7106.