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Coveney agrees to meet the family of Aidan McAnespie

Vincent McAnespie looks at a portrait of his brother, Aidan, who was shot dead 25 years ago.

TÁNAISTE Simon Coveney has agreed to meet with the family of Aidan McAnespie.

The senior Irish Government figure gave the commitment in a meeting in Dublin on Tuesday night with a delegation of civic nationalists.

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The meeting with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Mr Coveney in Government Buildings, included 12 representatives who were among the 200 plus people who signed a letter in December, asking the Irish premier to protect the rights of Irish citizens in the North.

Among the delegation were former Tyrone GAA star Peter Canavan and barrister Ánna McHugh, who is originally from Castlederg.

Speaking afterwards, Ms McHugh, who described the two-and-a-half hour discussion as constructive, said she along with Peter Canavan had used it as an opportunity to press for the Taoiseach and Tánaiste to meet with the McAnespie family.

Two weeks on from the 30th anniversary of the killing of 23-year-old Aidan McAnespie by a British soldier, pressure is continuing to mount on the Irish Government to release the findings of Deputy Garda Commissioner Eugene Crowley, who was commissioned by Dublin to investigate the controversial shooting in 1988.

The McAnespie family have always rejected the British Army’s account that the death was the result of a ricocheting bullet, accidentally fired from the gun of a soldier manning the watchtower on the checkpoint.

Manslaughter charges against Grenadier Guard David Holden were later dropped. He was eventually fined for negligently firing his weapon and medically discharged in 1990.

A 2008 report by the Historical Enquiries Team later found his account the least likely version of what had happened.
The McAnespie family believe the Crowley Report could help shed more light on what happened at the checkpoint in Aughnacloy on February 21 1988.

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The Irish Government continues to maintain that evidence was provided to the enquiry on the basis on anonymity.
Welcoming the commitment by the Tánaiste, Aidan McAnespie’s brother Sean, said the family will continue their campaign to find the truth about what happened 30 years ago.

“We’ll keep knocking on the doors,” he said. Sean revealed the family are expected to travel to Dublin on March 22 to address the Joint Committee on Justice and Equality in the Oireachtas.

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