Springhill inquest Friday 10th March 2023 – the killings of Margaret Gargan and David McCafferty

The first witness at Friday’s proceedings was Rosemary Heath née Kennedy who was 15 years old in 1972. She lived in Westrock Gardens in one of what were described as the  ‘tin bungalows, the house backed onto Corry’s Timberyard.

On the 9th July 1972 she went to Elizabeth (known as Lizzie) Meehan’s house, who was her best friend. She remembered she was sitting with Lizzie on the path outside her house when Margaret Gargan was walking past the house. She stopped to speak to her and Lizzie. It was then that Margaret was shot. She said that Lizzie’s brother Anthony Meehan and another resident Dennis Devenny tried to get to Margaret who was lying on the ground.

She said she knew Margaret from going to the community centre in the area. Margaret was wearing jeans and a baggy shirt that day.  She said that after 5 to 10 minutes of chat she heard a single shot ring out and believed that shot hit Margaret. They were then told to get down for their own safety by a man. She heard more shots being fired but did not know where the shots came from. She said Margaret was not carrying anything when she was shot and could not remember where the shot came from.

Joseph Aiken counsel for the Ministry of Defence (MoD) cross examined Rosemary Heath. He asks her can she remember going to any meetings regarding the incident or providing a statement to the Springhill Massacre enquiry. She states that she does not remember going to meetings or seeing a copy or being told about the Springhill Massacre pamphlet. She does not remember providing a statement to the Springhill Massacre enquiry in 1999 even though it is believed that  she was ‘Eye Witness 3’ in the booklet,

It was decided by the coroner Mr. Justice Scoffield to give Rosemary Heath a break from giving evidence given that she has several health issues and that she had been on the stand for a long period. She will continue her evidence at some time in the future.

The next witness to take the stand was Mary Elizabeth Kennedy, known as Betty. She is the sister of David McCafferty one of the victims. She was 7 years old when he died. Her memory of her brother  was that he was a lovely person, and he gave her a lot of attention when she was young.  She remembered a man coming to the door to say David was with the priest and he had been shot. Her next memory was when she seen him in a coffin.  His death was never spoken about in the house after that. She said that later in life she wanted to find out how David had died and she spoke to several people about the incident and if they had any knowledge about it.

Joseph Aiken counsel for the MoD asked Betty McCafferty about the people she met to discuss the death of David and how he died.  He referred specifically to a local artist called Gerard Kelly who had painted a mural of David and the other victims of the Springhill massacre. Betty Kennedy had spoken to Gerard in and about 2013 about David’s death as he and David were friends back in 1972.

This was the last day of evidence for the current hearings of the inquest, which will resume in June.