Majella O’Hare’s family deserve justice



Irish News Editorial. Belfast. Monday, July 13, 2020


Every death which took place in the course of the conflict in Ireland during the last 50 years and beyond was wrong and brought only misery to thousands of families without advancing any cause.

The trauma surrounding each life lost is enduring and it is disturbing that so many relatives are still searching for truth and justice.

Most of the violence was linked to paramilitary groups, who deserve to be held accountable for their campaigns although for a variety of reasons this may never happen.

Influential sections of the British establishment are opposed to any suggestion of an overall amnesty but at the same time are trying to insist that the authorities should stop examining killings carried out by the forces of the state.

While there should be no hierarchy of victims, there can only be enormous concern that armed and uniformed individuals were effectively able to walk away after killing innocent civilians.

The shocking case of 12-year-old Majella O’Hare, shot dead by a British soldier in Co Armagh in 1976 has again been under a spotlight in recent days after her family pressed for a new
investigation.

Majella died as she walked to church in the village of Whitecross, with a member of the Parachute Regiment acquitted on a manslaughter charge the following year after claiming he was defending himself from an IRA gunman.

The sequence of events was strongly disputed, with the British Ministry of Defence accepting in 2011 that the evidence provided by the soldier about an alleged sniper was ‘unlikely’ and saying it was ‘profoundly sorry’ for Majella’s death.

There will be widespread support for the belief of her family that a new inquiry must be held, and a fresh approach to many similar tragedies should also follow across the board.

A willingness from paramilitary organisations to fully and sincerely cooperate with this process would be a huge step forward and make a major contribution to the search for reconciliation.

The Stormont House Agreement from six years ago proposed the implementation of an independent Historical Investigations Unit, but frustratingly it has never been implemented.

Majella O’Hare’s family and friends deserve better treatment, as do many other figures from all sections of our divided society, and the British government needs to listen to their pleas.