Almost fifty years ago, 21-year-old Seamus Simpson was killed by a British soldier two days after the introduction of internment. From an Irish republican background (his uncle Pat was a comrade of Tom Williams, who was condemned to death in 1942), Seamus was shot during civil disturbances at a barricade in Rossnareen Avenue, west Belfast. He subsequently died in the Royal Victoria Hospital just after 5pm.
The family, supported by RFJ, have sought to address the untruths propagated by the British state in this case. The British army claimed that Seamus, an IRA volunteer, was about to throw a nail bomb when he was shot. Several witnesses, at or near the scene, recall Seamus waving an Irish tricolor during the disturbance but none saw him either throwing, or being in possession of, a nail bomb.
As in all cases of civilian killings by the British army at this time Seamus’ death was not properly investigated but instead was documented in the usual perfunctory, limited, and biased manner. Moreover, when the soldier who shot Seamus arrived at the RVH, he handed a small quantity of gelignite and detonator to an RUC detective claiming this had been the object Seamus had been about to throw. Forensic tests, however, showed Seamus had had no contact with explosives.
The family view the British army account as a complete fabrication. The explosives and detonator represented a conspiracy to justify Seamus’ murder and protect the killer. Statements given by British soldiers to the RMP contain significant discrepancies which have never been tested in a proper investigation. Added to this, subsequent attempts by the family to get at the truth have, to date, been met with indifference and obduracy.
Pat Conway (07377621846), an advocacy caseworker with RFJ stated, “The family report attempts to provide the fullest picture of what happened to Seamus on that fateful day when he was killed. Furthermore, it gives an account of Seamus the person as well as locating Seamus in context, as regards his family, his community and politically.”
In a further comment, Paul Butler (07423454982), also an RFJ advocacy caseworker noted that, “This report builds on the work compiled over nearly fifty years by various members of the Simpson family to right a terrible wrong and for whom their fight for justice continues.”
The Report can be read here Seamus Simpson Report