News

Brother of Majella (12) calls for soldier to apologise

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

THE brother of a Whitecross schoolgirl shot dead by a British soldier in August 1976 has called for him to emerge from Ministry of Defence (MOD) protection and apologise.
Forty-two years after 12-year-old Majella O'Hare was killed by British Army gunfire whilst on her way to confession in St Malachy's Chapel in Ballymoyer, her brother Michael has called for the soldier who pulled the trigger, Private Michael Williams, of the 3rd Battalion Parachute Regiment, to waive the legal cloak provided by MOD and explain his actions on that fateful day.
He believes that this will help provide a modicum of closure for his 95-year-old mother Mary and the entire family.
Michael said: "My pursuit of it was to make sure that Majella's death is not recorded as being hit by army fire as the result of crossfire and a gun battle. That was total lies, it never happened and they [the Army] were totally responsible for it.
“There were at least 20 witnesses gathered up by the RUC after the event and they all said what they heard, perhaps more what they heard than what they saw.
“The people who were immediately at the scene, like my father, Alice Campbell [a nurse who attended] and the children who were unscathed by it all - they were able to give eyewitness accounts."
Michael pondered on the fact that his sister would now be 50-years-old and said he often wonders about how her life would have turned out - if she would have a family, kids or a career.
He said that whilst nothing can ever bring her back, an apology would help ease the pain and anguish the family have endured in the years they spent trying to get MOD to admit to the truth of how Majella died.
He said: "In a situation like this, there are no winners and there's no such thing as closure for anybody that's going through this because it's always there. It can't be erased but a little act of compassion would go some way to healing the wounds a bit.
“Just by coincidence I was listening to Shelagh Fogerty on LBC. She flagged it up and deliberated on it at great length because the new commander of land forces said that he would protect his men regardless from the vicious claims and allegations made against them."
Michael said that the MOD's apology in 2011 "was giving something and taking it away a little bit".
“The telling line in it was 'we're sorry it happened', not that they were sorry they done it," he added.
Michael said that the multitude of second hand witnesses - farmworkers and people within hearing distance - confirmed through their statements to the police that there was no crossfire that day.
“There were areas where people were working out in fields and the whole synopsis was that there was this whole big gun battle going on and there was no cross fire. There was only one reported fire, which was the machine gun for just a short burst. It let three shells off and two of them hit Majella.
“The reality of it is that he could have killed numerous children that day, because they were all walking in a group, but as it turns out, Majella was the only one killed."
Branding the original MOD summary of events as a 'cover-up', Michael said: "[MOD's original testimony of events] Their version is lies and they tried to cover it up. I would've probably had more respect if they had said 'This is what happened, we're sorry it happened but this man is being reprimanded' and all of that.
“Instead of doing that they tried to wrap it up in military nonsense and tried to cover the death of the child by saying it was the result of cross-fire, that it was somebody else's fault, it wasn't theirs."

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