Springhill inquest Wednesday 8th March 2023

Mary Smith was the first civilian witness to take the stand today.  Known as Mary Moore in 1972 she lived in Westrock Drive and was 19 years old at the time of the incident. On the night of the 9th July 1972 she described seeing the bodies of Father Noel Fitzpatrick and Paddy Butler lying on the ground near to the Pettigrew house in Westrock Drive. She also seen another body which she believed was that of David McCafferty being brought through the window of a neighbour’s house.

Counsel for the Ministry of Defence (MoD) Joseph Aiken cross examination of Mary Smith followed a similar pattern to other civilian witnesses. He asks her will she tell the truth to the inquest about what she knew about the events on the 9th July 1972. He goes on to question her about when she was in Kathleen (Kate) Donnelly’s house that night and whether she knew the identities of the people who were there.  He refers to an extract in the ‘Springhill Massacre’ pamphlet where several people including Father Donnelly were in her home. In the pamphlet Kate Donnelly is quoted as saying, “Father Donnelly gave absolution to all the guys who were active that night.” Joseph Aiken pressed Mary Smith about whether she knew anybody in the Springhill area who was in the IRA, Cumann na mBan or Fianna Éireann.

After being given a warning by Mr. Justice Scoffield she said she will rely on her privilege against self-incrimination. Joseph Aiken then says to her, you do know the names of the individuals, but you are relying on your privilege but if you gave the names it would help the coroner establish the truth about what happened on the night of the 9th July 1972.

The next witness to take the stand was Mary Doyle. She had been returning home to Westrock Drive from her mother’s home in Ballymurphy on the night of the 9th July1972 with her three children. She said shooting seemed to be coming from Corry’s timberyard as she was making her way home. She heard a “burst of automatic fire” followed by several “single shots”. She recalled seeing bullet holes in the tin roofs and brickwork of some houses. She also seen blood on the windows of the houses that had been hit by gunfire.

She said she could not make it to her house, and she was frightened for the safety of her three children due to the firing. She got down on the ground with her two young sons and took her other child, her daughter out of the pram and began to crawl back towards her mother’s house in Ballymurphy.