The issue of so called ‘legacy killings’ is once again on the agenda in N Ireland as two soldiers – members of the parachute regiment – have been committed for trial over the death of Joe McCann in April 1972 (link):
McCann was unarmed when he was killed and a large number of security forces shell cases were found close to his body.
The Chronology of the early years of ‘the troubles’ events compiled on a daily basis and published by Richard Deutsch and Vivien Magowan – copies of which CL Military Monitoring have archived – records for Sat 15th April 1972:
“Mr Joseph McCann, a leader of the Official IRA in Belfast, was shot dead by a patrol of Paratroopers who had been alerted by Special Branch detectives who had recognised him in Hamilton Street. When challenged McCann did not stop but ran down Joy Street where he was shot and killed. Violence immediately broke out in Belfast with barricades being put up in turf lodge and other areas and troops and RUC stations came under fire. The shooting continued throughout the night in most Catholic districts”.
The men now charged with Mr McCann’s murder are now in their sixties. There is much controversy in Britain over the prosecution of former soldiers. A number of ex senior Army Officers and politicians have said that ex soldiers are disproportionately pursued. This however brought a response from the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) who pointed out that the overwhelming amount of prosecutions to date involve former loyalists or republicans (link):
Image: Joe McCann
Submitted by Bernard Moffatt, Celtic League Military Monitoring