Frances Bradley

Francis Bradley (20) was shot dead at a farm on the Hillhead Road near Toome in 1986

The family of a Co Derry man whose son was killed by the British army almost 40 years ago say his father has been denied the truth after he died before an inquest could be completed.

Eddie Bradley’s son Francis (20) was shot dead close to an arms dump during an SAS ambush near Toome in February 1986.

His name was later added to the IRA’s roll of honour.

An inquest, which opened in Derry in April, heard how Mr Bradley had told of being threatened by police before he was killed.

Mr Bradley, a father-of-four from Newbridge, outside Magherafelt, passed away on Thursday after a short illness.

The 88-year-old campaigned tirelessly on behalf of his son for almost four decades.

An original inquest was held in 1987, however, in 2010 former Attorney General John Larkin ordered a new one, which has yet to be completed.

Concerns have been raised that British government agencies are involved in trying to ‘run down the clock’ ahead of a May 1 cut-off date for inquests under the contentious Legacy Act, which became law in September.

Last month a coroner was told that a Public Immunity Interest (PII) hearing, which was due to be heard on December 14 – the day Mr Bradley died – would not go ahead due to continuing disclosure delays by the Ministry of Defence and PSNI.

PII certificates are used by state agencies to conceal information they don’t want the public to see.

A solicitor for the Bradley family later said they are “extremely concerned” that the PSNI and Ministry of Defence (MoD) are “running down the clock” after a coroner heard the inquest could face the prospect of being ‘derailed’ over delays in producing vital information.

Mr Bradley’s son Brian said on Friday that his family believe obstacles have been placed in their way.

“For more than 27 years our father, mother and wider family have campaigned for the truth,” he said.

“During that time, we have been met with continued delays and obstacles.”

Mr Bradley said his father was denied the truth.

“We know that the state has been playing for time in the hope that loved ones would eventually die – bringing to an end the various campaigns for truth,” he said.

“When they realised that was not going to work, they introduced their unjust Legacy Act.

“My father wanted to see this inquest, this basic human right, take place and reach its conclusion.

“That won’t happen now.

“He has been denied access to the truth and any possibility of ever seeing justice.”

Mr Bradley repeated his family’s belief that the state is delaying the inquest’s completion.

“Even now that the inquest has started state agencies continue to use delaying tactics in an attempt to stop it being completed before next May’s cut-off date,” he said.

Solicitor Fearghál Shiels of Madden and Finucane solicitors said: “Eddie was dissatisfied with the manner in which the RUC behaved at Francis’ original inquest in 1987 and he was proved correct in his suspicions that the RUC unlawfully withheld material from the coroner.

“He brought successful judicial review proceedings at the High Court in Belfast in 2007 which paved the way for a new inquest.

“Eddie pioneered the use of applications to the Attorney General to secure new inquests and many families across the north have benefited from his foresight.

“It is most unfortunate that he passed away as preparations are being made for the holding of Francis’ inquest in only a matter of weeks’ time.”

Requiem Mass for Mr Bradley will take place at the Church of St Trea, Newbridge, at 11am on Saturday with interment afterwards in the adjoining cemetery.

Irish News