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Two ex-British soldiers to face murder charge for shooting dead of IRA man

Joe McCann was shot dead in Joy Street, Belfast in 1972.

There was violence in west Belfast the day after Joe McCann was shot dead.
There was violence in west Belfast the day after Joe McCann was shot dead.
Image: AP/Press Association Images

TWO FORMER BRITISH soldiers are to be prosecuted over the shooting dead of Official IRA man Joe McCann in Belfast in 1972.

The decision to prosecute the unnamed soldiers has been taken by Northern Ireland’s Public Prosecution Service (PPS) . It comes following a 2012 review by the Historical Enquiries Team of the original RUC investigation.

The original RUC investigation in this case was conducted in 1972 and a decision was taken not to prosecute any individual.

A decision has now been made to prosecute two men for the offence of murder. A third soldier who was also part of the patrol has since died.

“The two defendants in the case are surviving members of the army patrol which
shot Mr McCann,” a PPS spokesperson said this afternoon.

A third member of the patrol who also fired at Mr McCann died in the intervening years. At present these individuals are not being named and are identified as Soldier A and Soldier C.

Man's killing unjustified Ciaran McCann (right) the son of Joe McCann with Ann (left) and Nuala (centre) the widow and daughter at a press conference in 2013. Source: PA Archive/PA Images

McCann was shot dead on Joy Street, Belfast on 14 April 1972 by members of the British Army’s Parachute Regiment.

His family and the Pat Finucane have long campaigned for prosecutions in the case.

The PPS has said that the decision to prosecute the two men was taken after the case was referred to it by the Attorney General:

The decision was reached following an objective and impartial application of the test for prosecution that was conducted in accordance with the Code for Prosecutors and with the benefit of advice from senior counsel.

Prosecutors deciding on whether charges should be brought must decide whether the evidence points to a reasonable prospect of conviction. They must also decide whether there is sufficient public interest in the prosecution.

Comments have been closed as legal proceedings are ongoing.

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About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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