‘An inquest date would give us hope’ – brother of girl shot dead in 1972

Harry Gargan’s sister Margaret was one of five shot dead at Springhill in west Belfast on July 9 1972.
‘An inquest date would give us hope’ – brother of girl shot dead in 1972

By Rebecca Black, PA

The brother of a 13-year-old girl shot dead 50 years ago has said a date for an inquest would give his family hope.

Margaret Gargan was one of five civilians killed in a shooting incident involving the Army on July 9th, 1972.

The other four were Catholic priest Father Noel Fitzpatrick (40) John Dougal, (16) Patrick Butler, (39) and David McCafferty (15).

The families and their supporters are set to gather on Saturday to mark the 50th anniversary of their deaths.

Pat Finucane death
Sinn Fein MP John Finucane has backed the families (PA)

Speaking to the PA news agency ahead of the event, Margaret’s brother Harry said after 50 years they want answers.

He was 12 when his sister, then aged 13, died. She was then labelled as a gunman.

“I remember my father and I having to crawl on our hands and knees to get to where Margaret was, she was lying there on a corrugated sheet. That sight will never leave me,” he said.

“My mother never recovered from Margaret, she died at 57 of a heart attack.

“She got a letter from a soldier’s mother, apologising that the British Army killed Margaret.”

A fresh inquest into the five deaths is in its preliminary stages.

Mr Gargan said he hopes a date for the full inquest to be heard will be given at the next preliminary hearing in September.

 

The UK government’s legacy Bill proposes to end all legal proceedings pertaining to the Troubles and has made the Springhill families anxious their inquest may not go ahead.

The Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill also proposes an effective amnesty for Troubles crimes for those who co-operate with a new information body.

“It has been such a long time. All we really wanted was an inquest, we don’t want prosecutions,” Mr Gargan said.

“We want to hear what happened. If we get a date for the full inquest at the next hearing, that would give us hope.

“We have only one parent left in all the families, that’s David McCafferty’s father, he’s 92, you would like to see him get an inquest.”

Anyone who can assist the inquests is asked to contact the Legacy Inquest Unit.

Sinn Féin MP John Finucane has backed the Springhill families, saying they should not have to wait any longer for truth and justice.

“It is disgraceful that five decades later the families of those killed still do not have answers about what happened to their loved ones,” he said.

“Their courage outshines the shameful actions of the Tory government that seeks to provide amnesty to the British soldiers that carried out the atrocities in Springhill and all state forces who killed Irish citizens.

“The British government should listen to the voices of victims, families, political parties and the Irish Government who are all opposed to these plans and want them scrapped.

“An agreement which included mechanisms to give victims and families access to truth and justice was reached in 2014 by the political parties and both governments at Stormont House, it should be implemented in full, in a human rights compliant manner.”

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