Belfast Telegraph

Ballymurphy: Witness saw soldier fire before man standing behind barricade was shot dead

Eddie Doherty, 31, died on August 10, 1971 during a series of disputed shootings in west Belfast

Kathleen McCarry holds an image of her brother Eddie Doherty, who died during the disputed series of shootings in a Ballymurphy area of Belfast in August 1971 which is the subject of fresh inquests at Belfast Coroner’s Court (Liam McBurney/PA)
Kathleen McCarry holds an image of her brother Eddie Doherty, who died during the disputed series of shootings in a Ballymurphy area of Belfast in August 1971 which is the subject of fresh inquests at Belfast Coroner’s Court (Liam McBurney/PA)

By Rebecca Black, PA

A witness has described seeing a soldier take aim and fire before a man standing behind a barricade was shot dead.

The man, who has been granted anonymity and is referred to as witness C5, described seeing the soldier, who had been in a digger trying to clear a large tree which formed part of a barricade on the Whiterock Road on August 10, 1971.

He gave the evidence to a fresh inquest at Belfast Coroner’s Court into a series of disputed shootings between August 9-11 in the west of the city during which 10 civilians were killed.

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(left to right top row) Joseph Corr, Danny Teggart, Eddie Doherty, Father Hugh Mullan, Frank Quinn, Paddy McCarthy, (left to right, bottom row) Joan Connolly, John McKerr, Noel Philips, John Laverty and Joseph Murphy, died in a series of disputed shootings in the Ballymurphy area of west Belfast between 9-11 August 1971 (PA)

The events came during widespread rioting across Northern Ireland following the introduction of the controversial policy of internment on August 9 of that year.

Witness C5 gave evidence around the circumstances in which Eddie Doherty, 31, was killed.

The inquests have previously heard the father-of-four was some distance behind the barricade and had been trying to make his way home at the time when he was shot.

C5 described going out, possibly to get cigarettes, when he noticed a crowd of people and went to see what was happening. He said it had been daylight and he had had a clear view.

C5 said he said he saw a large tree lying across the road which a soldier driving a digger was trying to clear.

He said a number of petrol bombs and other missiles had been thrown at the digger before he saw the soldier get out of the vehicle, kneel down, take aim and fire either one or two shots before getting back into the digger and reversing away around a corner.

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Eddie Doherty, one of those killed in shootings in Ballymurphy in 1971 (Family handout/PA)

“By virtue of the fact the soldier got out of the digger, took time to aim and fire a shot, I don’t believe he was in much danger of being struck by either a stone or a petrol bomb,” he said.

“I had a very clear view of what happened, I can still see it in my mind to this day. I looked around in the direction the soldier had fired, I saw a crowd around the man… the crowd pulled the man around the corner… people were trying to place the man on his side… as they turned the man over I could see blood on his back.”

He added: “I am quite certain the shot fired by the soldier was the one which killed the man.”

C5 said he came forward to give evidence to the inquest which have been running for almost a year, just a few months ago after meeting up with some old school friends who encouraged him to.

“I thought many times about it but tried to leave it out,” he told the inquest.

“But I don’t mind telling what I seen now if it helps the coroner, helps the family.

“There is a picture in my head which has been there a long time now.”

Earlier, the inquest heard that a former soldier had been “sectioned” after giving evidence.

Witness M151 had given evidence briefly by videolink in June before his testimony was halted.

It emerged as Mrs Justice Keegan considered applications on behalf of several former soldiers who are seeking to be excused from giving evidence.

PA

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