08/12/2015 Spotlight


08/12/2015

Hard-hitting investigations. The families of civilians apparently shot dead by soldiers during the Troubles are demanding that the government opens its files to reveal the truth.


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14. Schoolgirl. That day, she came home in a box. Why? We want to get

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the answers that we are looking for. And those console, in Northern

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Ireland. Some people have waited more than 40 years. -- answers come

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slowly. The wait for answers was supposed to end with the agreement

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at Stormont. But they got hobnob on the past. The major roadblock, the

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access to official information. Files like these. Information is the

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battlefield. The government has said, we need to have special

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restrictions, secrecy on the grounds of national security. But families

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of people shot by the Army, want to know why answers are still out of

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reach. I cried. Tonight, the war for information. The government wants to

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stop secrets being taken into the open, can we trust the reasons, or

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is national security being used to hide documents, that would reveal

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killings by members of the state. I would never forgive them.

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Old soldiers on the march, last month. These former servicemen,

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protest thing about investigations into a lot. -- tellings. What we are

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there for, we want to level the playing field, ensure that veterans

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are not prosecuted for doing duty. Families of those killed at the

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Troubles are pushing for more investigations, but for these men,

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turning back the clock to pursue them is unjust. I do not see why we

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are being investigated. F terrorists are pardoned... Yet we are serving

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soldiers, and can be arrested 40 years later, it is not correct. Do

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you sympathise with families who have lost loved ones? Absolutely.

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100%. But you cannot have one rule for one... What if a soldier

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murdered an innocent person? It never happened. No such thing. We're

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not hiding. They knew the potential for danger. Why be there? The place

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where Richie McKinney died was behind the wheel of his car. He was

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picking up his wife from war. A Protestant, -- work. He was killed

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in 1972. It was the bloodiest year of the the Troubles. In Belfast,

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tensions have been building between soldiers and Protestants, angry that

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they seemed unable to stop IRA. What is going to happen, if the Army has

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not brought peace? The Protestants will take this into their own hands.

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Do you think this could get rough? Just now, they think we're their

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soldiers. But they do not seem to realise, we are just as liable to

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shoot him, as anybody else. The tensions exploded. This was eight

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months after bloody Sunday. And the same battalion of the Parachute

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Regiment had killed civilians at Derry, now taking part in gun

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battles at Belfast. Afterwards, the commander gave his account of what

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happened in disturbances. We were ambushed. We resisted the onslaught.

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To Protestant men killed. -- two. Local people, accusing paratroopers

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of indiscriminate shooting. Nothing indiscriminate about it. 25 rounds

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fired. We had a wounded man, dead man. Positively tested with

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paraffin. They had been handling firearms. In fact, neither of the

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men was a loyalist gunman. The circumstances of Richie McKinney's

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death, still haunt his daughter. It came on the news, that the army had

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shot two people, the family were devastated. Paratroopers said he had

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seen shots fired from the direction of Richie McKinney's vehicle. They

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said the gunman got out, ran off. The soldier who shot Richie McKinney

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was also deployed at bloody Sunday. He had not actually opened fire in

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that incident. This time, he did. Years later, the bloody Sunday and

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quietly would hear he had said shooting Richie McKinney was an

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enjoyable experience, enhancing my standing in the battalion. Carol

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says she lived with the blackening of her father as a gunman for 40

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years. I should not have to justify my father. Was he a policeman? No.

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Who shot him? The army. I would tell them he was innocent, you could see

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them go, oh really, doubt it. The Ministry of Defence later paid

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compensation to the family for the death. But that army never publicly

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retracted its version of events. After the killing, Carol wrote to

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the government. But nothing happened. Then, a startling

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discovery. Visa just stumbled upon the Ministry of Defence document, in

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the National Archives. This private memo revealed... I cried when I read

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that. Says it all. That was what truly happened. Innocent man. They

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admitted that. But it was kick secret. 40 years. That was the last

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weekend of his life. I am fighting for his memory. I am fighting

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because I have got grandchildren. If they seek out family history... Read

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things... What are they going to think? I want an apology. The

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Ministry of Defence told us it would be happy to look into the Richie

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McKinney case, if contacted by the family. In 2005, the historical

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enquiry team was set up, to bring closure to families like this. But

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two years ago, it was scrapped. That was mainly because of shortcomings

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into its investigations are both militarily killings. Last year, a

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proposal to replace that with the historical investigations unit.

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Crucially, the government agreed it could see all the relevant

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militantly documents. In other words, investigators would say

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fables that the HET didn't. It was a proposal for a independent police

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unit, with full access to all documentation available. Any death.

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No matter who was responsible. Excellent proposal. But the family

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is hoping for new information faced an obstacle. Political leaders

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reaching an agreement after two months. But no deal on the past. The

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government introduced what is known as the national security clause.

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That means the Secretary of State could prevent families knowing what

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happened. As she believed making some information public could risk

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UK security. We want families to have as much information as

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possible, but a certain amount of sensitive information that if it was

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publicly known, with potentially give assistance. The UK Government

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has essentially marks families up the hill, push them off. This man

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was a Northern Ireland security minister. He said the Ministry of

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Defence needs to be more open with information, but also have to be

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careful about revealing methods of gathering intelligence.

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Transparency is very important, but it is difficult when you have

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agents, as we did, infiltrated into the IRA and they are doing a very

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important job. Obviously, any release of any document which could

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even start to point out who that was would mean their life would be in

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severe danger. But families and campaigners fear

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that the state will use national security as an excuse to cover up

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wrongful killings. This is the spot where she was shot,

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she fell, the crowd gathered around. She fell on her face just over

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there. There was all blood, she lost that much blood.

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September 1971. 14-year-old Annette had just finished school for the

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day. There was rioting in the area, she went to have a look. A bomb

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exploded nearby and soldiers opened fire. These are her plimsolls that

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she wore the day she was murdered. And to this day, you can still see

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spots of blood on the plimsolls. The soldiers said they were being

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shot at and claimed her death was an accident. But there was little or no

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interest in into her killing because, in the early 1970s, the

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police were not allowed to interview soldiers. Now the family once the

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army to open its files on the killing, but the Ministry of Defence

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is refusing to release them. The MOD would not even confirm which

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regiment of the British Army was responsible, it's just beggars

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belief. It has been an incredibly uphill struggle to get any

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information. The family didn't give up, but it has been like crowing

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hen's teeth, it really has been extraordinary. -- drawing. It is

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frustrating, very frustrating, you feel as if you are banging your head

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on a wall at times. As a family, we want to know why, we want somebody

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to be held responsible. Last year, the family took legal

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action to try to force the Il Divo released commence relating to this

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case. -- to force the MOD. Their lawyers discover that all the secret

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military files relating to the entire Troubles were open to

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destruction because there was no official protection. Only in 2014

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did the Government finally put what is known as a preservation order on

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the documents to keep them safe, and this is it. Some worry it came too

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late. That order should have been issued many years beforehand, and we

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don't know what was destroyed in the meantime. The Ministry of Defence

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told us that some nonessential Troubles documents have been

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destroyed, but others are already publicly accessible. They said

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closed files are retained because of personal or operational

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sensitivities. Last week, the McGavigan family

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received a draft copy of the Historical Enquiries Team report

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into Annette's death. In it, the HET detectives said they ask the MOD to

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identify the soldiers firing the shots that they so they could talk

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to them. But the detectives couldn't get the names. The Ministry of

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Defence even today claimed they never read tame the name of soldiers

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who were involved in lethal force incidents here, soldiers who killed

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people. I don't believe the Ministry of Defence has not retained the

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names of soldiers. I believe for them not to do so would be illegal.

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The state's determination not to give up its archives has been tested

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in court in recent years - when it refused to hand over files relating

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to army activities in Kenya in the 1950s. The Government later had to

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pay compensation for torture committed by soldiers. This

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journalist has ridden extensively bout what he calls the state's

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culture of concealment. -- written. We know the British Government tends

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to conceal that which might embarrass the Government or the

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armed forces. It is an attempt to sculpt the past. Ian questions the

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Government's commitment to opening its secret archives to examine the

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army's roll here. Two years ago, he reported the army had moved

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thousands of files out of Northern Ireland into secret warehouses in

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England, and he says those hidden archives were not even disclosed to

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HET detectives who were investigating military killings. I

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know they didn't know about those files, senior figures were clear

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that they had not been told, they didn't know they existed. An HET

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source told us the same thing, but the Ministry of Defence says the HET

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had full access to files. What seems clear is that when army files are

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opened, they often hold a significant information.

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Gene didn't wear a uniform, she didn't carry a gun, she was an

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innocent taken off the earth. -- Jean. For 40 years, Jean Smith's

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sisters believed she had been shot by the IRA. But the chance discovery

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of long hidden army documents turned that believe completely upside down.

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They now believe she was killed by soldiers. Jean Smith was 24 and from

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West Belfast. A working mum trying to build a life for herself and her

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daughter. It was June 1972. Her boyfriend talked her into going out

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for a quick drink. She never came home. On their way back to Jean's

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house, gunfire hit the car. Jean was shot in the head. A passing taxi

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picked her up to take her to hospital, but she died. Jean left

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behind a 6 -year-old daughter. The family never recovered. She was 24

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years of age and had her whole life in front of her, a lovely, beautiful

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daughter who she loved and adored, and that was all taken from her. In

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2012, her death was re-examined by the HET. They concluded what had

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always been assumed - that it was the IRA who most likely killed Jean.

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What do you do? I mean, IRA? Who do you turn to? Who can you say, you

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are in fear, what about the rest of our family, my brothers, our

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husbands, you know? Absolute terror, like. Back then, there was

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no council, nobody to go to, no investigations, there was nothing.

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That was until the discovery which changed their whole view of what

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happens to their sister. This is Ciaran. He began visiting

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the National Archives a decade ago to research the loyalist murder of

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his grandmother. My grandmother was murdered. What drives me is the same

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thing that drives all of our families, and that is the driver for

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truth. He now regularly comes here to research government documents

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about the troubles for other families. Last year, he found

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crucial evidence from 1972. It was all the incidents reported from

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right across the North, reported upwards to headquarters, so they

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offer little snapshots of what was actually happening back then. These

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records show uniformed and undercover soldiers opening fire in

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the area where Jean was hit. And the soldiers claimed to have shot

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someone. It has been reported from the Brigade Major, EBM, that police

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are dealing with the dead girl found in the taxi. In the same log, it is

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known that the security forces claimed ahead. The security forces

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claimed ahead, the army saying they shot somebody. In your view, that

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ties Jean's killing to a military hit? It is not my view, it is the

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Brigade Major's view, written down very plainly for us to see. This is

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the HET were poured into Jean Smith's murder, which was completed

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three years ago. -- HET report. Nowhere does it mention the military

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logs which suggest the military might have been involved in a

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shooting. They appear to have been missed. Ciaran took copies of the

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files to Jean's family. They were astounded, and they now believe the

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army covered up the full facts of what happened to their sister. God

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forgive them, because I can tell you, our family will never forgive

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them, never, they never knew the truth.

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Is evidence does not conclusively prove that soldiers shot Jean, but

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for the first time it raises that possibility. The Ministry of Defence

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told us that the fact these files were publicly accessible tends to

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disprove the suggestion that it has suppressed material concerning

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civilian deaths. The files have now been removed from public access. The

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National Archives told us this was to review data protection. Kew's

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family have gone to court to ask for an independent investigation into a

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killing. The MOD said it would co-operate with any authorised

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inquiry. But when people like Jean's sisters push for new

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investigations, these former soldiers feel like they are back in

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the firing line. All of us signed a cheque to our country to the value

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of our lives. We are not terrorists. We are not criminals. Can you put

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yourself into the shoes of somebody who says that there loved one... I

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am in those shoes, they shot my family, so I am in those shoes,

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those men were my brothers. So I have to get over it. I am afraid you

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have to do the same. As part of their demonstration, they brought a

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petition to Downing Street protesting at the recent arrest of

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one of their comrades over the Bloody Sunday killings. And their

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arguments have been heard in the House of Commons, taken up by the

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Government's own backbench MPs. I submit that it is immoral for the

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stage to seek to put these men on trial. So how much of the political

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pressure bed into Theresa May let's thinking when she said there must be

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a national security clause to limit historic investigations in Northern

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Ireland? I wanted to ask the Secretary of State, but she declined

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to speak to us. The Government's critics believe the national

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security clause is to open to abuse. The UK Government has taken a

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position that national security means what ever they want it to mean

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at any particular time. There is no official definition in legislation,

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or anywhere else. National security is quite a broad concept, isn't it,

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it arguably embraces national embarrassment. If people have died

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in questionable circumstances 45 years ago, plenty of people in the

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MOD would regard the evidence of that as something that should be

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retained from the public, from historians and lawyers on national

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security grounds. All of which raises the question - will the

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Government or the army ever really give up their Northern Ireland

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secrets? Eventually, it is going to have to be accepted that there are

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some security issues which will never be revealed, or will not be

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revealed in your or my lifetimes. That is not only to protect perhaps

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agents, but also it would reveal methods we had of gaining

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intelligence which still classified and still secret, and we still use.

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Do people, then, have to, in your view, come to an acceptance that

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there will be secrets the stage will never give up? Yes.

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The families of those killed by the army not prepared to accept state

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secrets can get in the way of truth and justice. We need to know the

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truth, no matter how long it takes. And we will not rest until we get

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the truth. She was one of ours, we are not going to let, you know, the

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British kind of just push aside. So we will fight to the end. All of

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these families also believe the state is playing a waiting game -

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waiting for them to age and die, and full their fight for the facts to

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die with them. What they have you got in the British Government to

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tell the truth about stories like yours? To be perfectly honest, with

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everything that has happened in my past, I honestly do not think that

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we will get what we want, that I would get what I want from the

:28:57.:29:00.

British Government, unless they have a change of heart, which they should

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have. Defence ministers declined to speak to us, but in a statement the

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MOD did make one admission - that investigations into army killings in

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the early years of the Troubles were not up to modern processes and

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procedures. For former soldiers, that may be an unsettling

:29:22.:29:23.

acknowledgement that there are questions to answer. But for the

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families, it could be a signal that it is too late to find the truth -

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and some secrets will stay stuck in the past.

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Do you have views on BBC Radio Ulster,

:29:52.:30:01.

If so, the BBC Trust would like to hear from you.

:30:02.:30:05.

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