From top: Mary Boyle; Ann Doherty
Ann Doherty has today launched the first stage in a legal action against Ireland, the Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald and the Donegal Coroner for their refusal to hold an inquest into the death of her identical twin sister Mary Boyle.
The six-year-old girl vanished on her grandparents’ remote farm in Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal in March 1977. She is Ireland’s longest and youngest missing person.
Her uncle Gerry Gallagher was the last person known to be with her.
Ann’s legal action has been taken on the grounds that the coroner Dr Denis McCauley has recently informed her lawyers that it is not his intention to hold an inquest.
The coroner has told them that an inquest would have an adverse effect on Mary Boyle’s mother Ann Boyle. He has also stated that An Garda Siochana would adjourn an inquest should one be convened.
Ann Doherty will challenge the decision on the grounds that Article 2 of the European Convention of Human Rights – the right to a thorough, effective investigation – has been breached.
She will argue that new evidence has come to light about her sister’s disappearance in a forthcoming documentary to be broadcast shorted called ‘Mary Boyle – The Untold Story’.
As part of this evidence, a number of ex-garda officers have alleged that there was a political interference in the initial investigation. They allege that there was a direct intervention by a politician who ordered that the chief suspect not be arrested.
Ann Doherty’s legal team will argue that this and other evidence has caused widespread public suspicion, rumour and speculation both in Donegal and throughout Ireland, and that an inquest should be held in an attempt to assuage that concern.
Further evidence has also emerged in the documentary, which had already been in the possession of the gardai, regarding information Mary’s mother had about her disappearance.
During a meeting with Ann Doherty and her lawyer Darragh Mackin in December 2015, the coroner stated that he had attempted to contact Mary Boyle’s mother Ann Boyle on at least four separate occasions regarding the holding of an inquest but had been unable to do so.
Ann Doherty has asked that an inquest be convened so that her twin sister can be officially declared deceased.
Ann contends that the coroner’s decision not to hold an inquest is unlawful and that the reasoning for same is entirely unreasonable and disproportionate.
She claims there is a substantive breach of Article 2 of the European Commission on Human Rights which obliges the state to carry out an effective and independent investigation when someone dies in suspicious circumstances.
She also claims that a delay of 40 years in opening an inquest is an irrational and disproportionate breach of Article 2 and that her constitutional right to the truth and justice has been denied.
Darragh Mackin of KRW Law has confirmed that an application will be made to the High Court in the coming days for a judicial review of the coroner’s decision.
‘Mary Boyle – The Untold Story’ will be broadcast shortly.
A statement from Families for Justice.