Family of Annette McGavigan issue pre-action protocol letter against PPS to make decision on prosecution before 01 May deadline

Lawyers representing the family of Annette McGavigan issued a pre-action protocol letter against the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) yesterday, requesting a prosecutorial decision regarding the soldier who shot their sister Annette before the 01 May deadline.

Annette McGavigan was 14 years old when she was shot dead by a member of the Royal Green Jackets Regiment in the Bogside area of Derry on the 6th of September 1971 as she watched a riot in the Bogside area. She had been let out of school early that day due to the disturbances and was still wearing her school uniform.

Annette McGavigan

Patricia Coyle from Harte, Coyle, Collins Solicitors & Advocates issued a pre-action protocol letter against the PPS yesterday following confirmation from the Legacy Investigations Branch (LIB) of the PSNI that a file was submitted to the PPS in respect of the case on 6th February 2024.

The NI Troubles (Legacy & Reconciliation) Act 2023 imposes a cut-off date for prosecutions and investigations relating to the conflict of 01 May 2024. If the PPS decides to prosecute the soldier, ciphered as Soldier B, that decision must be made before 1st May 2024 otherwise the prosecution cannot proceed.

The family, along with their lawyer and the Pat Finucane Centre, met with the police investigators in June 2023.  Police confirmed that Soldier B, the soldier they have identified as firing the fatal shot which killed Annette, had been interviewed under caution in the May 2023.

The PSNI have been conducting an investigation into the circumstances of Annette’s death for the past number of years. Following an appeal from the family on Annette’s 50th anniversary, a number of new witnesses came forwards and provided statements to the police.

The family also lodged a case with the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg on the 16th of January 2024 challenging the Legacy Act.  That case is yet to be heard and the next of kin are optimistic that it may be heard in conjunction with the Irish Government inter-state application against the British Government challenging the 2023 Act.

Martin McGavigan, Annette’s brother said today:

Annette’s murder devastated our family. My mother and father never recovered. When we came home from school our mother would be just sitting on the landing holding Annette’s clothes and crying. My father would spend hours standing and staring at Annette’s mural in the Bogside.

Annette wanted to be a nurse. She had so many possibilities in front of her, and those were destroyed on that day.

We are so worried that this Legacy Act brought in by the British government will snatch our last attempt at justice for our sister. It cannot be allowed to happen. We need the PPS to make this decision before the cut off date. At the minute we are holding our breath hoping that we get news soon before it is too late.’

Sara Duddy from the Pat Finucane Centre:

“The Legacy Act was designed to stop cases like this. Its sole purpose is to prevent soldiers who shot and killed men, women, and in this case, a child, on our streets from prosecution for their actions.

We urge the PPS to review to review the evidence and make the correct decision before the 01 May 2024 deadline. Killers cannot be allowed to evade justice simply because a timer ran out.”


Patricia Coyle of Harte Coyle Collins, Solicitors & Advocates said today;

The police confirmed on 24th February that a file was submitted to the PPS on 6th February 2024.  The deadline for a PPS decision is 1st May 2024.  In light of that timescale we issued a pre-action protocol letter against the PPS yesterday requesting an urgent decision on prosecution by the end of this month. 

This is a single victim case involving the killing of a child with a single suspect identified by the police.  This is not a complex case as regards identification of the limited army personnel involved, the location, civilian eyewitnesses and expert pathology and ballistic evidence.

Over the past 20 years our clients, the Pat Finucane Centre and our office have uncovered new evidence in the form of witness testimony and other materials including cinefilm all of which was provided to the investigating police.  The Legacy Act has created exceptional circumstances justifying the family’s request for a swift decision.  Relying on the PPS Code for Prosecutors there is significant public interest in prosecuting those responsible for the death of a child where the potential defendant acted on behalf of the state.  We await the PPS decision.”