Belfast Telegraph

1971 army shooting victim innocent

A Catholic shot dead by the Army 40 years ago in Northern Ireland was innocent, a report has said.

Billy McKavanagh, 21, was gunned down as he ran away when confronted by soldiers near Belfast city centre, a report from the Historical Enquiries Team (HET) said. He was shot in the back.

The soldier responsible maintains that the person he shot was armed. The HET said he was not carrying the weapon, a rivet gun which had been looted and left lying in the street in August 1971 and was picked up by members of Mr McKavanagh's group.

The report said: "Billy's death was an absolute tragedy that should not have happened. He was an innocent man who did nothing more than pick up a pair of waders that had been stolen by someone else and then run away when confronted by the army."

The HET is a team of detectives investigating conflict murders.

The victim's family has called for an Army apology.

Mr McKavanagh was shot dead by a soldier from the 1st Battalion, the Royal Green Jackets in Catherine Street in the Markets area in the early hours of August 11 1971. He had no criminal convictions or connection with any illegal organisation.

A security operation was taking place in the mainly-nationalist Markets at the time.

Mr McKavanagh, his brother Patrick and their cousin Teddy Rooney were walking along the street heading towards home. They had picked up items that had been looted and left lying on the street. When they saw the soldiers, they dropped the items and ran.

Mr McKavanagh was shot in the back. The HET report said: "He posed no threat whatsoever to the security forces."

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