Springhill inquest Tuesday 7th March 2023

The inquest opened with the MoD’s cross examination of civilian witness Martin Pettigrew. The MoD’s strategy and tactics since the outset of the inquest has been akin to interrogating all civilian witnesses about their knowledge of IRA members and if they knew the identity of gunmen who had been present in the Springhill and Westrock area on the 9th July. Today’s proceedings were no different.

Counsel for the MoD Joseph Aiken asked Martin Pettigrew about Jim Bryson, an IRA member who was later shot dead by the British Army in 1973. Martin Pettigrew said that Jim Bryson was in his house that night advising his mother that she could not go out due to the shooting that was happening in the area. Aiken asked him if he saw men with guns on the 9th July 1972.  In response to this question Martin Pettigrew relied on his privilege not self-incriminating himself and therefore did not answer the question.

Martin Pettigrew was asked about the mural at Brittons Parade and Beechview Park in the Whiterock area. Aiken refers to the names on the mural such as Joe Cahill and John Pettigrew who is Martin’s brother.  He also mentions a plaque to left hand side of mural with Martin’s mother, Kathleen Pettigrew’s name on it and reads out what it says on the plaque “in proud memory of all of those who assisted the republican cause.” Martin Pettigrew is asked about his sister Anne Marie Pettigrew and whether he knew she was a member of Cumann na mBan.

Joseph Aiken goes on to exhibit a copy of Belfast Graves booklet published by National Graves Association as evidence where it shows photos of his sister Anne Marie Pettigrew and it says she was a member of Cumann na mBan.  He is also asked if his brothers John and Brian Pettigrew were in the IRA or if any other of his relatives were members of an illegal organization. Martin Pettigrew relies on his privilege and does not answer the question. He goes on to say that his brother John was trying to save lives in July 1972 and his other brother Brian was shot trying to help people who had been shot by the British Army.

The next witness to give evidence to the inquest was David McCafferty the father of David McCafferty one of the victims. He lived with his wife Nora and their seven children in Ballymurphy and David was the eldest child at 15 years of age.  David McCafferty was a merchant seaman but had been home at the time of his son David’s death. He said that youths had called to the house looking him that night. David had told him that he was going to the Shamrock Club in Springhill  which was a youth club.  Later that night two men in their early twenties called to the house to inform him that David had been shot.

Cross-examined by counsel for the MoD Mr. Aiken he is asked if he was aware that his son was a member of an illegal organization namely Fianna Eireann. Mr. McCafferty says he did not know before David’s death that he was in Fianna Eireann.  He presses him again to see whether he knew his son was a member of an illegal organization. He exhibits newspaper articles and death notices regarding David McCafferty’s membership of Fianna Eireann. In the articles and death notices it describes Mr. McCafferty’s son David as the OC of the local Fianna Eireann organization.

The inquest continues Wednesday 8th March 2023