Mum knew Francis’s killing was unjustified

Posted By: November 18, 2017

 …I wish she had lived to hear coroner say so

Brother of boy (11) shot dead by army rubber bullet tells of mixed feelings at inquest ruling

Claire Simpson. Irish News. Belfast. Saturday, November 18, 2017


Schoolboy Francis Rowntree was killed by a rubber bullet in April 1972. Photo courtesy of the family.

A brother of 11-year-old rubber bullet victim Francis Rowntree has hailed a coroner’s ruling that the killing was not justified – but said he wished his mother had lived to hear it.

Theresa Rowntree, who had long campaigned for the truth to be revealed about her young son’s death in 1972, died in a Belfast nursing home in March – just months before yesterday’s verdict.

Francis was hit on the head by a rubber bullet while walking through the Divis Flats complex close to the Falls Road in west Belfast. He died two days later.

In preliminary inquest findings revealed yesterday, Coroner Brian Sherrard said the soldier who fired the bullet used excessive force.

He also said the soldier was not given any training in the use of the bullets or made aware they were potentially lethal.

Francis was the first victim of rubber or plastic bullets during the Troubles and the findings could have implications for the families of the 16 other victims.

His older brother Jim said last night that his family had finally got justice.

“We feel a bit of closure after 45 years. It was a lethal gun the soldiers were using. They were handed to the soldiers who didn’t know how to use them so the MoD is at fault,” he said.

“This is the first time that they have decided this gun was lethal. The government had denied it but now it’s down to black and white.

“It’s an awful thing that my mother couldn’t have seen it. She died in March.

“She knew she was right. She’s looking down on us now – her and Frank.”

Mr. Rowntree said he now wants an official apology from the MoD.

The family’s solicitor Pádraig Ó Muirigh said legal action would be taken against the ministry.