Springhill Westrock Inquest: MoD continues to criminalise Springhill Community in efforts to deflect from British army killings

The Springhill Westrock Inquest continued today hearing civilian witness Martin (Gill) McShane who was 21 years old in 1972 and lived at Westrock Gardens. He was in Springhill Community Centre on the night of the incident and heard shooting at about 8pm. He was  worried about his parents and decided to leave the club and go home. On his way home he was told he was told Patrick Butler and a priest had been shot and that their bodies have been moved into a house.

When he came out of the Community Centre he went a different route – due to the shooting that was taking place at the time. He went down Westrock Drive and saw Martin Dudley lying on the road and was told he had been shot. He said the army had been shooting down the alleyways from Corry’s Timberyard. He saw strike marks where bullets had hit the walls in the area and there were bits of bricks falling off the wall where the bullets had hit.

He said that he assisted in carrying Brian Pettigrew who had been shot on a corrugated sheet or door to the Whiterock Gardens. It was there that there was an ambulance to take him to hospital. There were other people helping him, but he does not remember who they were. There were also people carrying John Dougal’s body to an ambulance parked in Whiterock Gardens.

Counsel for the MoD Joseph Aiken defended his line of questioning of this civilian witness. Martin McShane was asked if he knew the people who were mentioned on a plaque that was erected in the Springhill area. The plaque and especially the wording on the plaque, ‘In proud remembrance of all those who give assistance to the republican cause’  was used by Aiken to try and make the case that the entire Springhill community was assisting the IRA in their armed attacks on the British army. Aiken stated,

“I am trying to establish where the people on the plaque lived in the area and were they involved or knew about the incidents and the shooting at the army.”

The questioning by the MoD about the names on a plaque was strongly objected to by counsel for the families. Malachy McGowan stated that,

“The way this questioning is being presented to the witness is that identifying names on the plaque is in some way naming them or associating them with an illegal organization.”

Joseph Aiken continued by asking Martin McShane whether he knew that John Dougal was in the IRA. Mr McShane invoked his privilege and did not answer the question. He was asked if he knew of any other individuals who were shot that night  and if they were in any illegal organizations. The witness relied on his privilege again.

Joseph Aiken  then asked Martin McShane,

“As a 21-year-old living in Westrock did you know anybody that was in the IRA, Cumann na mBan or Fianna Eireann in July 1972. At any subsequent time after the incident on 9th July 1972 did you learn about anybody being in any illegal organization.”

Martin McShane invoked his privilege again and did not answer the question.

The inquest will continue on Monday 13th November 2023