Belfast Telegraph

Ex-soldier slams 'betrayal' over IRA man murder trial

One of the Paratroopers facing trial for an Official IRA man in 1972 has said he feels "betrayed" by his country.

Last week the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) announced it was to prosecute two ex-soldiers for the murder of Joe McCann.

He was one of the Official IRA's most prominent activists and shot by soldiers in disputed circumstances in 1972.

Three years ago, a report by the now-defunct Historical Enquiries Team (HET) concluded the killing was not justified.

Two former paratroopers cooperated with the HET's investigation and believed the matter to be closed. However, they were later told that files were passed to the PPS for consideration.

More: IRA man Joe McCann got what he deserved, says victim's daughter

While both of the former soldiers have, one only known as Soldier A has spoken of how he feels "betrayed".

“I’ve done nothing wrong, I was just doing my job," he told The Sun.

McCann (24) was commander of the Official IRA's third Belfast battalion.

His unit's seizure of Inglis bakery in the Markets area during internment became part of republican folklore.

In February 1972, McCann was involved in the attempted assassination of Ulster Unionist politician John Taylor.

More: Forgotten Official IRA man Joe McCann was part of republican revival in 60s

He was regarded by the security forces as a dangerous terrorist.

McCann was shot by soldiers in disputed circumstances in Joy Street in the Markets area, close to his home, on April 15, 1972.

The original RUC investigation in this case was conducted in 1972 and subsequently a decision, based on the evidence then available, was taken not to prosecute any individual.

In March 2014 the Attorney General for Northern Ireland, following a request for a fresh inquest, referred the matter to the Director of Public Prosecutions and this resulted in a formal review of the case.

The Sun paper reports that the grandfather served 23 years in the armed forces without a blemish on his record.

He says his life and retirement plans have been put on hold.

“I’m being treated like a terrorist. It’s disgusting and the Government’s doing nothing about this political witch-hunt. I feel betrayed.

“To be told you will be charged with murder 44 years after the incident has been a shock to the system.

“Until last week I was looking forward to retiring and taking a few holidays abroad. But life’s on hold now. I’d like a minister to stand up in Parliament and say something.”

Soldier A added: “A ­letter at the time said no action would be taken.

“Now I’ve been treated with contempt by the Northern Ireland prosecution system.”

The PPS, following its decision to take a prosecution, said: "Following a careful consideration of all the available evidence it has been decided to prosecute two men for the offence of murder.

"The decision was reached following an objective and impartial application of the test for prosecution that was conducted in accordance with the Code for Prosecutors and with the benefit of advice from senior counsel.”

Belfast Telegraph Digital


From Belfast Telegraph