The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg has ruled against the UK in actions taken over the killing of three people by security forces in Northern Ireland.

One case was taken by relatives of Martin McCaughey and Desmond Grew, who were both shot dead by a specialist British Army unit in 1990.

The other action was taken on behalf of John Hemsworth, who died from head injuries during an incident with the RUC in 1998.

In its ruling, the ECHR found that Article 2, which protects the right to life, had been violated by British authorities.

The judges noted that investigations into such killings "had been marked by major delays and that such delays remained a serious and extensive problem".

They ruled that "all necessary and appropriate measures had to be taken" in such cases in the future so that "the procedural requirements of Article 2 were complied with expeditiously".

However, the court also judged that much of what was in the cases taken by the two families was "inadmissible", as the matters they raised were either premature or before all domestic remedies had been exhausted.

The court decided, under what it termed "just satisfaction", that Collette and Michael Hemsworth be awarded "non-pecuniary damages" of €20,000 and a further €11,000 "in respect of costs and expenses". 

It further ruled that Brigid McCaughey, Pat Grew and Letitia Quinn be awarded €14,000, but only "in respect of costs and expenses".