Families vow to keep fighting for truth 50 years after Springhill shootings

·2-min read
A large crowd attends a march to mark the 50th anniversary of the shooting dead of five people in Springhill, west Belfast. Picture date: Saturday July 9, 2022. (PA Wire)
A large crowd attends a march to mark the 50th anniversary of the shooting dead of five people in Springhill, west Belfast. Picture date: Saturday July 9, 2022. (PA Wire)

Families of five people shot dead in Belfast 50 years ago have vowed never to give up their quest for truth.

Relatives bereaved by shootings involving the Army in Springhill in July 1972 marched through the area on Saturday to mark the 50th anniversary of their loved ones’ deaths.

The victims included a Catholic priest and three teenagers.

At a wreath laying ceremony following the march, the brother of a 13-year-old girl killed in the shootings criticised the UK Government’s contentious draft legislation that would introduce a form of amnesty for perpetrators of Troubles crimes.

A march to mark the 50th anniversary of the shooting dead of five people in Springhill, west Belfast (Mark Marlow/PA) (PA Wire)
A march to mark the 50th anniversary of the shooting dead of five people in Springhill, west Belfast (Mark Marlow/PA) (PA Wire)

The Bill tabled by the Government would also end inquests and civil proceedings related to the conflict.

A fresh inquest into the Springhill killings is currently anticipated to be heard next year.

Harry Gargan’s sister Margaret, 13, was one of the five Springhill victims.

The other four were cleric Father Noel Fitzpatrick, 40, John Dougal, 17, Patrick Butler, 39 and David McCafferty, 15.

Mr Gargan told the 50th anniversary commemoration the planned legislation was “unlawful and disgraceful”.

“It is really being implemented to cover the past played by previous British establishments, both Tory and Labour, in our horrific conflict,” he said.

“This Bill will inflict unending trauma and grief on victims’ families.

“50 years or 100 years – our families are never giving up.”

Harry Gargan, whose 13-year-old sister was killed in the Springhill shootings (David Young/PA)
Harry Gargan, whose 13-year-old sister was killed in the Springhill shootings (David Young/PA)

Also addressing Saturday’s event was Sinn Fein north Belfast MP John Finucane.

“Make no mistake about what this legislation is at its heart – it is a continuation of their (the British) policy to thwart, frustrate and deny families the ability to hold them to account,” he said.

“It is a fundamental attack on the rule of law and an unprecedented and blatant attempt to retain total control of the legacy process.

“These actions are unilateral, deliberately cruel and show that the British government care not for the lives of our loved ones, nor do they care about the rule of law, truth or justice.

“And that they couch this legislation in the language of reconciliation is truly shameful.”

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