Northern Ireland's top coroner suspended investigations into 14 controversial deaths today, citing national security concerns.
John Leckey said he thought Attorney General John Larkin had overstepped his powers by ordering fresh inquests into the Troubles-era killings.
Mr Leckey told a preliminary hearing into the 1972 death of 11-year-old Francis Rowntree that the inquest presented a possible threat to national security and suspended it.
Francis was the first person to die from British rubber bullets during the Troubles.
His family say he was shot at point-blank range while British army claims the bullet ricocheted off a lamp post.
Family solicitor Padraig O'Muirigh said: "They have waited 40 years to have a proper inquest into the death of their loved one and this development is a step backwards for them."
An inquest into father of three Gerard Slane's 1988 killing was also suspended without prior notice today.
The 27-year-old was shot by the loyalist Ulster Defence Association.
UDA member and British intelligence informant Brian Nelson was implicated, leading to widespread allegations of collusion between the security services and loyalist paramilitaries.
The inquest into the 1971 Ballymurphy massacre - where British paratroopers gunned down 11 unarmed civilians over a 36-hour period in a Catholic part of Belfast - was also put on hold by the coroner today.
Mr Leckey said he had written to British Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers and that the issue may have to be resolved in the High Court.