Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Coroner rules no inquest into nuns’ road deaths 

At a preliminary hearing of an inquest into the deaths of two nuns in a crash involving a police vehicle near Newry almost two years ago, a coroner ruled against holding a full inquest into the accident, claiming such a move would be “counter-therapeutic”.

Coroner Joe McCriskin said the driver of the unmarked police Mitsubishi Shogun, Constable Martin Angus, was “placed in an unbelievable difficult position” adding there was little he could have done to avoid the fatal collision.

Sisters Frances Forde and Marie Duddy of the Sister of Mercy Order in Belfast died when their Renault Clio was struck by the jeep on the A1 near Newry on 30th September 2014.  The nuns had been on their way to a retreat at nearby Dromintine College.  Three police officers sustained minor injuries in the crash.

The Police Ombudsman’s investigation into the accident was described in court as “extremely detailed and extremely professional” and barrister for Constable Angus, Michael Loughrey, said in his opinion an inquest “would not provide any further detail about the very tragic circumstances” of the incident.

The coroner agreed and said he was satisfied by the PSNI’s response to the crash and added: “I am not sure I could ever properly understand why Sisters Duddy and Forde attempted to make that manoeuvre.  I am not sure an inquest would give us an answer.”

In a statement, the Mercy Sisters said they welcomed the decision.

“We, the Mercy family, are again reminded of the tragic passing of two wonderful sisters who dedicated their lives to serving God and God’s people.  Our thoughts are with all those who were affected by this tragedy, especially with the Duddy and Forde families who have had to deal with such a sudden and tragic loss.”