Civilian witness tells Springhill inquest of bravery of victims who died that day

The Springhill inquest resumed today with evidence from two more civilian witnesses being heard. One of those witnesses, Mary McVeigh, told the inquest that she wanted to thank Paddy Butler, David McCafferty and Father Fitzpatrick for their bravery that day in trying to save people’s lives. These three victims were shot dead close to where she lived. The MoD continued to focus more on what civilian witnesses knew about gunmen or their knowledge of anybody who was a member of the IRA as opposed to how the victims were shot dead.

The first civilian witness was Katherine (Kate) Donnelly. She was 22 years old at the time and lived at Westrock Drive. She was at home on the day of the incident and remembered hearing shots. She told the inquest she remembered seeing Father Fitzpatrick and Paddy Butler walking past her home. Both of them were later shot and Father Fitzpatrick’s body was brought into her house. She believed he had been shot in the neck and he looked like he was drawing his last breath. Mother Theresa’s nuns came to the house to try and revive Father Fitzpatrick. She recalled looking out the window of her house and seeing Paddy Butler’s body lying on the ground outside. Canon Murphy arrived at the house and gave Father Fitzpatrick the last rites. An ambulance later took Father Fitzpatrick’s body from her house in the ambulance, Paddy Butler’s body was also taken away in an ambulance. Father Donnelly then came to the house and gave absolution to everyone that was in the house that night. She did not see any gunmen shooting that night.

Joseph Aiken counsel for the MoD questioned Kate Donnelly about the Springhill Massacre pamphlet and her statement of the incident in the pamphlet. He asks her about the phrases in her statement, ‘all the boys who were active that night’ and ‘they lost a gun and were running around all over the place looking for it’  and what she understood those phrases to mean. She said she did not know why those comments were attributed to her. She was asked like every civilian witness so far in the inquest, if she knew of anybody at the time who was a member of any illegal organizations. She invoked her privilege and did not answer the question.

The next civilian witness to give evidence was Mary McVeigh. She had been visiting her parents-in-law in the St James’ area on the day of the incident. She walked back home to her house in the Westrock area and on her way home she heard shots being fired although she did not know where the shooting was coming from. When she got home she looked out the window of her house and saw Paddy Butler and a young lad, whom she later knew to be David McCafferty, running past her house towards Corpus Christi Chapel. A short time later they both came back the same way along with Father Fitzpatrick. She did not see anybody being shot but she told the inquest that she can recall to this day seeing the body of Paddy Butler lying on the ground a short distance from her home. Counsel for the MoD asked her whether she saw anyone with weapons or if she knew of anybody who was a member of an illegal organization. She said the only people she saw that day were people trying to save people’s lives.

Mary McVeigh said she wanted to thank Paddy Butler David McCafferty and Father Fitzpatrick for their bravery in trying to protect people that day.

The inquest continues tomorrow