Bloody Sunday & Beyond

Bloody Sunday was the most high-profile example of ‘State Murder’ yet it was not the only one below are links on two other such events which happened BEFORE and AFTER  Bloody Sunday. Please take time to read about them and support the families in their campaigns for justice and truth. The ‘Peace Process’ may be moving on but these families can’t untill they get the justice they deserve, don’t let them be forgotten.

Jacqueline Butler was only 18 months old when her father Paddy was gunned down in the Springhill Massacre It’s remembered by some as the Springhill Massacre, by others as Belfast’s Bloody Sunday. But one thing that no one disagrees with, is that when the shooting stopped on the evening of 9 July 1972 five people lay dead, two of them children and one a priest. Over the following days the British Army would claim to have been involved in a gun battle with the IRA, where known gunmen had been hit. Local people claimed that there had been no exchange of gunfire while the IRA denied involvement. Earlier that day a truce between the IRA and British government had been broken in Lenadoon and according to the IRA it was to Lenadoon that most of the city’s units had gone that day.

Margaret Gargan (13) and David McCafferty (15) were the youngest victims that night. John Dougal had left school the month before and was 16-years-old. Father Noel Fitzpatrick was the second priest to be murdered by the British Army in Springhill in the space of a year, while Paddy Butler was married with six children, the eldest 15 and the youngest 18 months.

That 18-month-old child was Jacqueline. Today, at the age of 30, she has two children of her own and now lives in Ardoyne. Buoyed by the setting up of the Saville Inquiry in Derry, along with the other victims of the Springhill Massacre she is campaigning for a similar inquiry to be established into the murders at Springhill. While the campaign to clear the name of the Bloody Sunday victims is never far from the headlines, few people, if any know the events that took place in Belfast less than six months later. But the similarities are unmistakable.

“It was after 9.30 on a sunny evening when a soldier in Corry’s Timber Yard opened fire on a car at Westrock Drive,” explains Jacqueline. “Martin Dudley was hit in the back of the head as he was trying to get out of the car with his friends. Around then there was a knock at our front door. Fr Fitzpatrick was trying to get to Martin Dudley to give him the last rites because he was lying in the middle of the road, so my daddy put his shoes on and went out to help him. He was in a white short sleeved shirt and a pair of light trousers because it was the middle of summer and they made their way to the back of Springhill “Martin was lying in between where the bungalows and the houses were, behind a car. Fr Fitzpatrick was waving a white hanky and went out with my father into the middle of the road, and as they bent down to pull Martin to safety they were shot with the same bullet. It went straight through the priest’s neck and blew half of my daddy’s face off.

Fr Noel Fitzpatrick “Every time somebody tried to get to them the soldier fired again. Wee David McCafferty tried to help Father Fitzpatrick and was shot dead, and John Dougal was also shot dead trying to rescue Martin Dudley. Anything that moved they shot and at the same time in Westrock Gardens Margaret Gargan was also shot and killed sitting on a step. My daddy’s body lay there for six hours because nobody could get to it for fear of being shot.”

Within the space of a few hours Jacqueline’s mother Margaret went from being a housewife, who had always been looked after by her husband, to having to raise six children on her own, while at the same time holding down a job. A widow at the age of 35, she would never recover from the loss of her husband and like so many other people left bereaved would depend on medical help just to get through the day.

“You must remember my father’s name was tarnished and he was described along with Father Fitzpatrick and David McCafferty in the next day’s Belfast Telegraph as IRA gunmen who had been dressed in black. To cover their own backs for killing innocent people the Brits called them gunmen. It was a sunny day and he was wearing a white shirt and he went to help a young lad who had been shot and didn’t deserve to be murdered.”

When Jacqueline’s mother went to collect her husband’s belongings in the days after his murder an RUC officer threw a large brown envelope at her with nothing but 50 pence inside. However, the inquest into the five deaths would later prove that lead traces on all five bodies were negative. “She never got any of his clothes back and she was left raising us on her own. For all those years all she wanted was a bit of justice and for somebody to come up and tell her that her husband was an innocent man. When she went for compensation all she recieved was £700 and then she fought for compensation for us and we were awarded £80 each which was held in a no interest fund which meant that when I got the compensation it was the exact same amount that my older brother received 15 year’s earlier – £80. That annoyed my mother too, because she said that he had worked all his life and at the end of it all he was just worth a couple of hundred pound.