AG orders fresh inquest into 1971 British Army killing of Billy McGreanery

The Attorney General, Brenda King, has today ordered a fresh inquest into the death of Billy McGreanery in Derry in 1971. This follows the disappointing decision yesterday by the Public Prosecution Service that the soldier who shot Billy dead would not be prosecuted in relation with the killing.

 Billy McGreanery was shot dead by a member of the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, ciphered soldier A, at the junction of Eastway, Lonemoor Road and Westland Street, Derry, late in the evening of 14th September 1971.He underwent surgery at Altnagelvin hospital and died approximately 4 hours later, during the early hours of Wednesday, September 15 1971. He was 41 years old at the time of his death.

Billy shoes


In 2013, following a public apology from the Minister for the Armed Forces, Andrew Robathan on behalf of the MOD & British Army, KRW Law wrote to the Attorney General seeking a new inquest. KRW engaged in lengthy correspondence with the AG’s office, and in 2017 the AG confirmed that he had referred the case to the PPS who then directed the PSNI to carry out a number of enquiries. LIB undertook a review of the case, before commencing a full investigation.

Following yesterday’s decision by the PPS, the family’s solicitor Gary Duffy from KRW Law wrote to the Attorney General asking that the inquest now be ordered. This was granted today, with the Attorney General stating:

“The Attorney is mindful that a fresh inquest is likely to be faced with difficulties including the availability of witnesses, the fact that Soldier B is deceased and the potential impact on the inquest’s ability to find facts if a witness asserts the privilege against self-incrimination. While these matters clearly sound on the utility of a further inquest the Attorney nonetheless considers that it is advisable to order a new inquest in this case.”

Speaking today, Solicitor for the McGreanery family Gary Duffy from KRW Law said:

Yesterday’s PPS refusal to prosecute anyone in connection with the killing of Billy McGreanery was gut- wrenching for the family.  However. their distress has been alleviated to an extent in light of the Attorney General’s decision that a new inquest would be advisable. The announcement couldn’t be any timelier, coming as it does less than 24 hours after the PPS Decision, and indeed less than 24 hours before the Legacy Act cut- off date. Yet again this case presents as an example of how the current legacy processes can and do work in certain instances for families. The Legacy Act serves to dismantle all of the existing legal mechanisms and puts us into a Conflict- resolution dark era.‘’

Sara Duddy from the Pat Finucane Centre said:

“This is welcome news following yesterday’s devastating decision not to prosecute Soldier A in connection with Billy’s death. We now are appealing to the Labour Party, should they win the next election, to make good on their promise to repeal the shameful Legacy Act so that this inquest can go forward. We are also awaiting the outcome of the Legacy Act legal challenge that is due to be consider by the Court of Appeal in June. Families like the McGreanerys are resilient and will continue to fight for truth and justice for their loved ones.”

Billy McGreanery, nephew of Billy McGreanery said today:

“We were uplifted by the news today that the Attorney General has ordered a fresh inquest into Billy’s death. This gives us a glimmer of hope for the future. We still have the resolve to fight on and get justice for our uncle Billy, despite the major setback yesterday. We welcome the acknowledgement by the Attorney General that there are still questions that need to be addressed, and we hope that an inquest does take place at some stage to give us these answers.”