Man waved white hanky as unarmed pair shot dead, Ballymurphy massacre inquest told
A man waved a white handkerchief on a stick after soldiers shot an unarmed man in the back and a grandmother in the face, an inquest has heard.
John Maguire recalled the shooting of Joan Connolly (44) and Danny Teggart (44) outside Henry Taggart Army base on August 9, 1971 as he gave evidence at an inquest for the 10 victims of the Ballymurphy massacre yesterday.
The 84-year-old said he was walking to a pub on the Springfield Road at around 7pm on August 1971 when he saw a "mini riot" further ahead.
"We stopped - then soldiers started shooting," he said.
The pensioner recalled how he and his four friends took cover in waste ground - formerly the site of a Presbyterian Manse - opposite the base.
"Daniel Teggart tried to run, but he didn't get too far," he recalled. "He fell to the ground about 10 yards away; he was shot in the back and must have died instantly - he was definitely not armed."
The elderly witness recalled hearing mother-of-eight Joan Connolly say "I can't see" after she was shot in the face.
"She said it again, but her voice was much weaker," he said.
"She must have lost consciousness then."
Mr Maguire, who took cover behind a pillar with a number of other men, told the inquest his friend "tied a hanky to a stick and waved it" before an army vehicle drove into the middle of the field.
"A soldier got out - he knelt on the ground and started shooting with his short-arm," he said.
The witness said he ran through a gap in the hedge and took refuge in a nearby house fearing the soldier was going to "pick us off". "If I had have ran with Danny Teggart I would have been shot too," he added.
However MoD barrister Peter Coll QC highlighted discrepancies between Mr Maguire's testimony yesterday and previous statements he has made.
The witness was "certain" the shots were fired from the Army base but failed to account for why he previously claimed he "did not know" where they came from.
Mr Coll ceased interrogating the witness after the coroner intervened to say she would not allow the pensioner, or any civilian witness, to be subject to "this type of questioning".
The inquest was shown a Belfast Telegraph report featuring a picture of an 18-month-old baby girl's bedroom which was riddled with bullets in August 1971.
The coroner is considering issuing an urgent witness appeal to contact the child's parents who might still be alive.