Belfast Telegraph

Mother of young girl shot dead in 1976 dies

Mary O’Hare has died 43 years after daughter Majella was shot dead
Mary O’Hare has died 43 years after daughter Majella was shot dead
Majella O'Hare
Lauren Harte

By Lauren Harte

The mother of a 12-year-old girl killed by the Army in 1976 has died.

Majella O'Hare, from the south Armagh village of Whitecross, was on her way to church on 14 August, 1976, when she was shot twice in the back.

At the time, Private Michael Williams, of the 3rd Battalion Parachute Regiment, claimed he had fired in response to an IRA sniper attack. He was tried for manslaughter in 1977 but acquitted by Lord Justice Maurice Gibson who accepted there had been a gunman in the area.

Majella's mother, Mary, who was in her 90s, passed away yesterday, almost 43 years after her young daughter was killed. A family friend said that in that time, she had remained "heart-broken but always dignified".

In August 2010, the Historical Enquiries Team said it supported the findings of the original RUC investigation which had found that Private Williams was not returning fire at a gunman and recommended to prosecutors that he be charged with manslaughter.

In March 2011, Mrs O'Hare received an official apology from the Ministry of Defence. It was only the second time an apology had been offered for the Army's behaviour during the Troubles.

The letter corrected the Army's account and acknowledged the soldier's courtroom explanation was "unlikely".

At the time, Mrs O'Hare's son Michael said while the apology did not "bring closure to the family", it did "help reach an acceptance of what happened to Majella".

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