| 18.4°C Belfast

Call for independent probe into soldier’s fatal shooting of 12-year-old girl

Majella O’Hare from Whitecross died after she was shot in the back in 1976.

Close

EMBARGOED TO 0001 FRIDAY JULY 10 Majella O’Hare who was shot dead by the Army in Co Armagh 44 years ago. Her brother Michael O’Hare has vowed to fight for justice for his sister who, at 12 years old, was shot in the back whilst walking to church in Whitecross, Co Armagh on August 14 1976, and has called for an independent investigation into her death.

EMBARGOED TO 0001 FRIDAY JULY 10 Majella O’Hare who was shot dead by the Army in Co Armagh 44 years ago. Her brother Michael O’Hare has vowed to fight for justice for his sister who, at 12 years old, was shot in the back whilst walking to church in Whitecross, Co Armagh on August 14 1976, and has called for an independent investigation into her death.

EMBARGOED TO 0001 FRIDAY JULY 10 Majella O’Hare who was shot dead by the Army in Co Armagh 44 years ago. Her brother Michael O’Hare has vowed to fight for justice for his sister who, at 12 years old, was shot in the back whilst walking to church in Whitecross, Co Armagh on August 14 1976, and has called for an independent investigation into her death.

The family of a 12-year-old girl shot dead by the Army in Co Armagh 44 years ago have called for an independent investigation into her death.

Majella O’Hare, from Whitecross, had been walking to church on August 14 1976 when she was struck in the back.

At the time soldiers claimed the shooting had been in response to an IRA sniper attack.

Close

Majella O’Hare who was shot dead by the Army in Co Armagh 44 years ago. (O’Hare family/PA)

Majella O’Hare who was shot dead by the Army in Co Armagh 44 years ago. (O’Hare family/PA)

PA

Majella O’Hare who was shot dead by the Army in Co Armagh 44 years ago. (O’Hare family/PA)

A soldier was later charged by the then police force, the RUC, with manslaughter but was acquitted in court.

In 2011, the UK government issued an apology to the O’Hare family in a letter which acknowledged the soldier’s courtroom explanation was “unlikely”.

If it weren’t for the actions of the soldier, she would still be with us.Michael O'Hare

Now the family say they want the record set straight on what happened to Majella, and have written to the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) requesting an independent investigation.

Majella’s brother Michael has vowed to fight for justice for his sister.

“If it weren’t for the actions of the soldier, she would still be with us,” he said.

“We live with the pain that we will never know the potential of her life. The apology acknowledged the wrongdoing, but neither this nor the historical enquiries report which prompted it provided us with the full truth of what happened. It didn’t give us the justice and accountability we are entitled to.

Close

Michael O’Hare, who has vowed to fight for justice for his sister Majella O’Hare who was shot dead by the Army in Co Armagh 44 years ago, pictured at his home in north west London. (Victoria Jones/PA)

Michael O’Hare, who has vowed to fight for justice for his sister Majella O’Hare who was shot dead by the Army in Co Armagh 44 years ago, pictured at his home in north west London. (Victoria Jones/PA)

PA

Michael O’Hare, who has vowed to fight for justice for his sister Majella O’Hare who was shot dead by the Army in Co Armagh 44 years ago, pictured at his home in north west London. (Victoria Jones/PA)

“I hope this will now come and give my family and I the peace we seek”.

The family is being supported by Amnesty International.

Grainne Teggart, the group’s Northern Ireland campaign manager, said the story of Majella should be a “matter of national shame for the UK”.

“It is utterly appalling that the family have been left without justice for nearly 44 years,” she said.

“Majella O’Hare was a young girl of 12 when she was cruelly robbed of her life. The loss had a devastating impact on her family and the grossly inadequate investigation at the time only added to the trauma.

“Decades later, her brother Michael has been left fighting for the independent investigation to which they are entitled.”

Darragh Mackin, a solicitor for the O’Hare’s family added: “To date, the family for Majella O’Hare have never received the truth, justice or an iota of accountability.

“We have presented the chief constable with the grounds and evidence to which calls for an immediate independent investigation.”

The PSNI said they cannot give a date for when a review of the case will commence.

In a statement the PSNI said: “The tragic death of Majella O’Hare currently sits within the caseload of Legacy Investigation Branch (LIB) for future review in accordance with LIB’s case sequencing model.

“Regrettably, due to the LIB caseload, which extends to more than 1,100 incidents touching on over 1,400 deaths, we are unable to give any undertaking as to when this review will commence.

“PSNI supports the establishment of alternative legacy architecture however responsibility for that rests within the political sphere.

“In the absence of such alternative arrangements, PSNI will continue to fulfil it’s statutory obligations and remain committed to providing the best possible service we can to families who lost loved ones.”

PA