Springhill estate, west Belfast, Northern Ireland.
9 July 1972(6 months after Bloody Sunday)
9.50pm: British paratroopers opened fire.
The Paras continued firing for the next 90 minutes, bringing murder and mayhem to the streets of Springhill and terror into the homes of dozens of trapped families.
One eyewitness described residents being “pinned down everywhere”.
“If there was a target, they [British snipers] shot at it; if not, they just shot into the houses”
Another resident described her home as “riddled with bullets”.
“I was lying on a mattress with my one-year-old granddaughter and a spent bullet lying right beside her head. No one could get out.”
British Paras gave no warning of their intent; were under no threat from their victims; many of those who died were either fleeing or going to help others who were injured; and the soldiers lied about their actions. The victims were all civilians and many of them were teenagers.
Margaret Gargan, 13, shot in the head as she talked to girlfriends.
One of Margaret’s young friends
“We were only sitting talking you know the way wee girls talk about things. Next thing she fell down. We never heard the shot. Within a couple of seconds she was lying on the ground. It all happened so quickly. Then everybody started to scream. Then we got pulled inside. The shooting continued and it was a while before Margaret’s body got pulled in.Arthur Neeson lifted her off the street and brought her through Maggie Meenan’s house.’
“I got £68 (compensation), which didn’t even bury her – the people in the Whiterock buried her. The Army says they done it at the inquest. They tried to say she was a 21-year old gunman because she had jeans on her. There were no apologies or nothing. In fact, I never even got her clothes back.’
John Dougal, 16, shot in the chest as he attempted to rescue another youth, shot and wounded moments earlier.He’d just left school
His brother Jimmy “When the state takes life then the threshold of accountability must be higher and this must equally be so concerning the planning and ordering of such actions. Accountability was especially required of those responsible in the aftermath for ensuring that the killers were never brought to justice. The challenge is now to ensure that the truth is uncovered and that justice is delivered to the families.”
David McCafferty, 15, shot in the chest
Patrick Butler, 39, shot in the head
His daughter Jacqueline
“I was only 18 months old when Daddy was killed. I never knew him, only through stories and photographs.Mum had five other children all under 15″.
Mrs Butler:“he had just eaten his dinner and was in his slippers when”
Fr. Fitzpatrick came to the door and asked if Daddy could show him the way as someone had been hurt and needed the Last Rites.
“Daddy slipped on his new shoes and went out the door, shouting
“I won’t be long”.And that was it.
Jacqueline: “Mum was told he died instantly. The coffin had to be closed because of his injuries, so she never really got to say goodbye.
Mrs Butler‘How could someone go out the door and never come back? How could that happen?’
She never got any explanation
Jacqueline “Although Daddy was an innocent man, because he had been shot by soldiers,
RUC raided our house every week after he died, ransacked it at four or five in the morning. Mum didn’t understand that either”.
Mrs Butler: ‘How could they do that to us after killing Daddy?’
Jacqueline: “Every time there was a knock on the door, she would shudder and think of the day Daddy went out and never came back.”
Father Noel Fitzpatrick, 40, shot in the neck
10 July 1972: the British Army claimed that it had killed “terrorists” saying its troops were fired on first by the IRA, ending a temporary IRA ceasefire.
An Army spokesman“There has been a heavy exchange of fire between the IRA and troops. Some of the dead and wounded were undoubtedly caught in the crossfire”.
Inquest July 1973:The British Army attempted to claim the killings had been carried out by loyalists. The inquest established that all the dead had been killed by British Army bullets.Seven soldiers had been involved in the shootings, all claimed they fired on gunmen. Although it had been a clear bright evening not one soldier could identify any other feature about the gunmen other than they were carrying a weapons. Forensic evidence revealed that none of those killed had been in contact with firearms.All the soldiers emphasised in their statements they had not seen nor shot at any priest.
An RUC detective“There had been no investigations into the killing, as the area was too dangerous to carry this out”.
The jury returned an Open Verdict.