Traumatic evidence of civilians having to carry the body of 13-year-old Margaret Gargan whilst coming under heavy gunfire from the British army was heard at the Springhill inquest today from Anthony Meenan. He was only 19 years old at the time and he told the inquest how he attempted to get to Margaret’s body after she was shot dead outside his home in the Westrock area. Minutes before his 16-year-old sister Elizabeth, who also gave evidence today, was sitting talking with Margaret along with her friend Rosemary when the British army shot her dead.
Elizabeth Clarke (nee Meenan) was the first witness to give evidence. She was 16 years old in 1972 and lived in Westrock Gardens. She was at home with her father and her brother Anthony Meehan on the day of the incident. Elizabeth and her friend Rosemary Kennedy (nee Heath) were sitting out the front of her house when Margaret Gargan came walking along Westrock Gardens. She stopped to talk to her and Rosemary after coming from the Westrock Community Centre. She had left the centre to find out what was happening and to go round to check her house as her sister was babysitting.
Elizabeth told the inquest that Margaret sat down beside her and Rosemary and then she heard a loud shot and seen sparks and saw Margaret fall down. She thought Margaret was messing about and told her to get up. She ran back into the house to her father screaming. Her father told her to go to her room while he went to get help. She believed that the shots she heard came from the direction of Corry’s Timberyard.
The next witness to give evidence was Anthony Meenan. In 1972 he was 19 years old and lived at Westrock Gardens. He was at home at the time, and he remembered his sister coming into the house screaming about Margaret. He went out to see what was happening.
“There was a lot of gunfire outside and I used our hedge as cover to try and get to Margaret who was lying outside our house. I could not reach her as she was lying out on the path and there was a lot of shooting taking place. A neighbour who lived opposite me shouted to me not to go out as there was a lot of gunfire. I do not have any recollection as to what happened after that, I’ve no memory of it.”
He remembered his father coming out of the house with a blanket or a sheet to put over Margaret. Anthony left the house to tell Margaret’s parents what had happened. On the way he stopped to talk to a man driving a car with a priest in the passenger side. “I asked the priest to come round to my house as a girl had been shot. I also remember seeing a car up the street with the driver’s door open and a person lying on the ground beside the car. The priest told me to go back round to my house. I went back to my house and Margaret’s body had been moved into the garden. They were trying to get Margaret to the hospital, but no ambulances were coming into the area.”
He then told the inquest that he and others had to carry Margaret’s body from the house to Brittons Drive on a corrugated sheet. There they saw a man driving a mini car and flagged him down. “We put Margaret’s body into the car and took her to the Royal Victoria Hospital (RVH). I knew Margaret as she would have been at our house with my sisters.”
The inquest resumes again on Thursday