Death of Schoolgirl Comes Back To Haunt British Army



There is to be a meeting between Northern Ireland Office Minister Hugo Swire, the family of Majella O’Hare and Secretary of State Owen Paterson.

The meeting is to discuss the Historical Enquiries Team’s report into her death. The 12-year-old Co Armagh schoolgirl was shot by a soldier near her home at Whitecross in 1976.

The O’Hare killing aroused considerable concern at the time because of clear ambiguities in the account of the British army as to why shots had been fired. SDLP MLA Dominic Bradley said the HET report contradicts the Army’s story.

“The soldier and the Parachute Regiment maintained there was a gunman present in the area on that day and that he had fired shots at them and that the soldier had returned fire.

“But as the HET report clearly shows that was not the case,” Mr Bradley said.

“So the truth of Majella’s death needs to be acknowledged by the British  government.”

A soldier, Private Michael Williams, was charged with manslaughter after an RUC investigation, but was acquitted in court.

Two weeks ago, the HET said it had sent a letter to Majella’s mother, regarding its findings and that the final copy of its report would be sent to her in “four to six weeks”.

An HET spokesman added: “The original RUC investigation found that Private Michael Williams was not returning fire at a gunman as he claimed and they recommended to prosecutors that he be charged with manslaughter.

The HET supports the findings of the original investigation. They also say the RUC investigation was thorough and good.

The killing of Majella also caused outrage and concern outside Ireland. On the Isle of Man her death led directly to the establishment of the `Anti-Militarist-Alliance’ (members of Mec Vannin and the Manx branch of the Celtic League). The AMA subsequently campaigned against the use of the Isle of Man for training purposes by the British Army and the base at Jurby providing rest and recuperation for troops from N. Ireland. Training exercises eventually ended and the base closed.

It is hoped that after waiting over thirty years the family of Majella O’Hare will get both justice and closure.

Report on the killing on relatives for justice website here:

Brief details on HET and its work here:

J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information
Celtic League


The Celtic League has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It works to promote cooperation between these countries and campaigns on a broad range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, monitors all military activity and focuses on
socio-economic issues.

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