South Armagh solicitor receives prestigious legal award

August 8, 2016

A Cullyhanna solicitor has received a prestigious legal award for his work in the new inquests into the Hillsborough football disaster in which 96 football fans died.

Native South Armagh man, Rory Hearty, received the Outstanding Achievement award at last month’s Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year (LALY) Awards held in London.

Rory was part of a legal team from Birnberg Pierce & Partners, a law firm which provides representation to families whose loved ones have died in controversial circumstances involving the state.  The renowned firm led almost 20 different law firms in an inquest into the deaths arising from the Hillsborough Stadium Football disaster.

After hearing two years of evidence in what was the longest inquest in British legal history, the jury ruled in April this year that the then match commander Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield of the South Yorkshire police was “responsible for manslaughter by gross negligence due to a breach of his duty of care.” The Liverpool fans were completely exonerated in the ruling.

Former St Patrick’s PS and St Patrick’s College Armagh pupil Rory, was one of a nine strong team put forward by Birnberg, which represented 74 families in the inquest. He described having spent the last three and a half years working full time with the Hillsborough families as “an absolute honour and a privilege” and said the families had “fought relentlessly for 27 years” for their loved ones to be completely exonerated of any blame in the deaths.

The Cullyhanna man believes growing up in the Troubles in south Armagh has instilled in him a quest for uncovering the truth as well as a real understanding of how important the Hillsborough verdict is to people from home who identify with the need for families to understand how and why their loved ones died.

Speaking after the LALY awards ceremony in July, Trevor Hicks, president of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, whose two teenage daughters died in the disaster, paid tribute to the lawyers who represented the HIllsborough families.  Mr Hicks said all the legal teams involved fully deserved the Outstanding Achievement Award “for the way they handled a complex task with great competence and sensitivity. They worked extremely well with us and with each other. I would like to say that we are extremely grateful to them for a good job very well done.”