JUSTICE for the innocent men, women and children murdered by British Paratroopers on Bloody Sunday and their families – JUSTICE FOR ALL

The dead cannot cry out for justice; it is a duty of the living to do so for them: Lois McMaster Bujold

With many thanks to the: Bloody Sunday March for the original posting.

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Majella O’Hare murdered by British paratroopers on 14th of August 1976.

The 14th of august was a day of special remembrance for Nurse Alice Campbell of Crossmaglen, for it was on that day she was to be married to Brian Reavey of Whitecross. Alas Brian and his two brothers John Martin and Anthony were assassinated in January 1976. On the Fourteenth morning Seamus Reavey, Brian’s brother, collected her from her work at Daisy Hill Hospital, Newry, at 9 a.m. They bought a wreath and went to collect the father James Reavey, and little Colleen the eight-year-old daughter. They cut roses from the garden at the old Reavey home atGreyhilla, Whitecross, where Brian was assassinated. They arrived at Ballymoyer Graveyard about 11.00 a.m. Seamus noticed a group of soldiers in the hay-cut field beside the graveyard, and whenthey were half-way down the path of the cemetery the same soldiers had entered at the bottom left of the cemetery and met them on the path. The Paratrooper in charge told Seamus Reavey that he wanted to see him when he was finished.They delayed in the graveyard some twenty minutes thinking the soldiers might move off and leave them alone. But when they came out and Seamus unlocked the car door for the others, the Paratrooper called Seamus in the foulest of language. This was witnessed by Hugh Kennon who had been stopped on the road by the British Army. He remarked on it. The Paratrooper kept Seamus about half an hour at a telegraph pole some thirty yards abovebthe graveyard. There he put Seamus through deep agony insulting the memory of his dead brothers. To the stranger this inhumanity is incredible but it is a common attitude of the British Army to the oppressed Catholic community. While they were talking a group of children went by. Seamus Reavey says they looked happy. They were a group of ten children who were heading for their sodality confession at Ballmoyer Chapel,some 500 yards down the road. Mrs. Murphy of the Orlitt Cottages, from where most of thechildren had come, had warned the bigger ones before they left not to pass any remarks to the British Army. The 4 soldiers at the gateof the cut hayfield about 45 yards below the graveyard gate shouted some taunts to which the children hardly replied. One of these soldiers lay on his stomach manning a machine-gun. This was the gun that killed Majella O’Hare. At this stage two little girls aged 8 and 7 were some distance in front. They were followed by a boy of 13 and the girl of 16. The rest of the 8 children were stretched across the road, two of these lagging a little behind Majella was second from the left hand side of the road. She had the youngest child (three and a half) by the hand. There was a loud bang and Majella fell. All the civilian witnesses are agreed that there was one single bang. They describe it as “loud,” like an “explosion.” Mrs. Teresa Murphy says -“I heard the shot, a bang with a tail on it, not a sharpclear sound, but very loud.” This is an accurate description of a firing from a machine-gun which can fire “800” rounds a minute. The slightest touch will discharge 3 shots. And this is whathappened. The Paratrooper discharged 3 shots. Two of the bullets penetrated Majella’s back and came out through her stomach. The bullets ploughed up the heap of gravel in front of the trailer which was parked on the road verge.

Gerry Conlon – 1st March 1954 – 21st June 2014

Gerry was released from prison on 19th October 1989 after serving 15 years as an innocent man. In November 1974, the then 20-year-old was arrested in Belfast for his supposed part in the IRA pub bombings in Guildford, which killed five people and injured 65. Conlon had never been to Guildford. But along with three others – who became known as the Guildford Four – he was sentenced to life in prison on the basis of confessions obtained under torture by Surrey police.

Conlon’s father, Giuseppe was also arrested and charged in connection with the bombings after he travelled to England to organise legal representation for his son. Giuseppe Conlon, along with Conlon’s aunt, Annie Maguire, her husband Paddy and their family – who became known as the Maguire Seven – were convicted on the basis of dubious forensic evidence which the prosecution claimed proved they had handled explosives used in the bombings. Giuseppe Conlon was sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment and died in prison less than five years into his sentence. The forensic evidence used to secure his conviction was later exposed as fraudulent.

The Guildford Four and the Maguire Seven, together with the Birmingham Six, continue to be viewed as three of the most deplorable miscarriages of justice in British history.

“I hope that what ­happened to us will always act as a reminder to people never to jump to conclusions, whatever the nature of a crime, and never to ignore the people who are now trying to get their voices heard so that the nightmare does not happen to them”

With many thanks to: James Connolly for the origional posting.

The family of Kathleen Thompson were in Coleraine Court today as the inquest into the circumstances of their mother’s death in November 1971 resumed.

However it adjourned shortly after lunch with further enquiries necessary to identify potential military witnesses. A preliminary hearing has been set for the end of June.
The court heard from David Thompson, Kathleen’s son, who is believed to be the last person to speak to his mother alive before she was shot dead in her garden in the early hours by a British soldier.
The court also heard from Matthew Lewsey, an expert from the MOD who outlined the steps undertaken to identify documents and military witnesses.
Karen Quinlivan QC, representing the family, cross examined the witness- outlining various steps that had not been taken to identify soldiers A, B & C- the three soldiers who had provided statements to the RMP & inquest at the time.
Quinlivan stated that all the soldiers had been identified as part of the Saville inquiry- including those in the Royal Green Jackets and Royal Anglians, but that was not the case in relation to the shooting of Kathleen Thompson. The MOD confirmed that steps had not been taken to determine whether any of those identify for Saville were A B or C but they could be followed up on. Further steps, including examining personnel files and providing info for the Coroner to approach HMRC re current addresses based on pension records had also not been pursued. These potential avenues came to light during a preliminary hearing as part of the Ballymurphy inquest. Counsel for the family then took instructions and the court heard that they would like these further avenues to be addressed by the MOD. The case was adjourned until the end of June, at which time an update will be provided and hopefully a further date to conclude the inquest will be determined.
Soldier D, the shooter, gave evidence at an earlier hearing in March. He had in effect ‘traced’ himself when he wrote to the RUC in 2002 asking that the files relating to Kathleen’s death not be released following publicity in local press following an intervention by Mark Durkan.
PFC was in court supporting the Thompson family, who are represented by Fearghal Shiels from Madden & Finucane.

With many thanks to the: Pat Finucane Centre for the origional story.

THOMPSON INQUEST DAY 2: British soldier who murdered Derry mother-of-six wept in dock then failed to provide names to assist inquest

THOMPSON INQUEST DAY TWO

A former British soldier responsible for shooting dead a Derry mother-of-six wept in the dock as he expressed regret for the killing but failed to provide names of other army personnel who could assist the inquest into her death.

Kathleen Thompson, 47, was shot dead in the back garden at her Rathlin Drive home in Creggan by a bullet fired by a British soldier on November 6, 1971.

Around midnight on the night Ms Thompson was shot dead, members of the Royal Green Jacket Regiment carried out a raid on a house in Rathlin Drive.

Shortly after the raid Mrs Thompson was found dead in her garden, where she had been discovered by her husband, Patrick, and daughter, Minty, who was 12-years-old at the time. Mrs Thompson had been killed by a high velocity bullet that had struck her in the chest.

Today, her family came face to face with the soldier responsible for firing the fatal shot, known only as Soldier D, as he gave evidence at the inquest into Ms Thompson’s death. Presiding over the inquest is Coroner Sandra Crawford.

Soldier D, who has been granted anonymity, gave his evidence screened off from the rest of the court but visible to the Thompson family.

Soldier D confirmed that he had shot a total of eight rounds. He said he shot the first two rounds into the Thompson’s back garden at what he said he believed was a someone with a gun. He said he believed he observed a ‘a flash and a bang’ at ‘the periphery’ of his vision and that he then saw a ‘vague outline’ of a ‘head, arms and torso’ behind the fence.

In a statement made directly after the incident in 1971, Soldier D had also stated that he shot another six times at what he believed to have been the source from which explosive objects had been thrown at him.

However, a statement by Soldier A, who was alongside Soldier D at the time of the incident, was admitted to the inquest as evidence.

Soldier A said he had told Soldier D to stop firing and move on and that the subsequent six shots fired after the two into Mrs Thompson’s back yard, Soldier D had mistakenly fired upon his own troops.

Soldier D, in a later statement to the Historical Enquiries Team in 2010, claimed he could not remember firing the subsequent eight shots after the first two. However, he conceded that the account given in 1971 where he admitted firing eight shots would be the most accurate account due to its contemporaneous nature.

Soldier D said the incident involving Mrs Thompson had been the only incident in his army career where he had ever fired a shot and where there was a fatality. He admitted he had been questioned after the incident but that no further action was taken by the army either in relation to Mrs Thompson’s death or the allegation that he had mistakenly fired on his own troops.

Gerry McAlinden QC, legal representative for the Coroner Service, asked Soldier D if he accepted that it was his bullet that had struck and killed Mrs Thompson.

He replied: “I certainly do have to accept that very possibility, but I was aiming at what I thought was someone discharging a weapon at me.

“I would be appalled if it was me who was responsible.”

At this point, Mr McAlinden asked Soldier D if it was his intention to kill Mrs Thompson to which he replied, “Of course not.”

He then asked Soldier D if he regretted his actions. Thompson family members, who had a view of Soldier D, confirmed that he became emotional at this point and answered by nodding.

Full file
After a short recess, Karen Quinlivan QC, questioned Soldier D in relation to a letter he had sent Chief Constable of the PSNI in 2002 concerned about a request by Mark Durkan, an MP for the SDLP at the time, to see the full file on the Kathleen Thompson case.

In the letter, Soldier D had referred to being informed by other former soldiers and colleagues about articles regarding the case in local newspapers, the Derry News and Derry Journal.

She asked Soldier D who had told him about this as the paper would have only been available locally.

He said he could not remember any of the names of his former colleagues from the Royal Green Jacket Regiment, which he had earlier described as a ‘family’.

He then said the information may have come from soldiers who married women from Derry. When asked about the other soldiers that gave evidence about the incident that involved the fatal shooting of Mrs Thompson, Soldier D again said that he could not recall anyone’s name. He also said he could not remember the names of anyone who had been selected to be trained as promising young soldiers, of which he was one of 30, in a special platoon.

Ms Quinlivan put it to Soldier D that, given this was the only time that he had ever discharged a live weapon in an operation and that it had resulted in a fatality, this was ‘not a forgettable incident’ and that he would recall at least some of the names of the soldiers present that night.

She also suggested that he was being deliberately obstructive to the inquest by failing to give names that would provide assistance. However, Soldier D claimed he just could not remember anyone’s names.

Ms Quinlivan also questioned him on the six shots fired after the first two into the back garden of the Thompson family. She pointed out that on his annual report and employment sheet dated August 1971 to August 1972, that Soldier D had lost his place on the junior NCO (non-commissioned officer) cadre due to an ‘unfortunate incident’.

Promotion
Ms Quinlivan asked: “Is there any chance you lost your place for shooting Kathleen Thompson or because Soldier A said you were shooting at your own platoon?”

Soldier D said he didn’t recall that and repeatedly told the court how he had been promoted.

He said: “I can’t understand this, if you check my records you will see I was promoted.”

Ms Quinlivan replied: “We know that in Northern Ireland soldiers are promoted after firing fatal shots.” She then made reference to Bloody Sunday by way of proof.

She also asserted that what Soldier D had fired six shots at was his own troops deploying CS gas.

She pointed out that someone would have been ‘super-human’ to have thrown an explosive device 130m, citing the World Record for the javelin throw at 104m while the discus was 74m.

Ms Quinlivan added that, even if the shots had been aimed at someone who had thrown something, this was a breach of the ‘yellow card’ rules of engagement as once the items had been thrown there was no further threat.

The inquest continues. See Thursday’s Derry News for comprehensive coverage.

With many thanks to: Derry Now for the origional story.