08/12/2015 Spotlight


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


tensions have been building between soldiers and Protestants, angry that


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


of indiscriminate shooting. Nothing indiscriminate about it. 25 rounds


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


quietly would hear he had said shooting Richie McKinney was an


enjoyable experience, enhancing my standing in the battalion. Carol


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


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


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


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


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


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


the government. But nothing happened. Then, a startling


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


proposal to replace that with the historical investigations unit.


Crucially, the government agreed it could see all the relevant


militantly documents. In other words, investigators would say


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


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


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


is hoping for new information faced an obstacle. Political leaders


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


government introduced what is known as the national security clause.


That means the Secretary of State could prevent families knowing what


happened. As she believed making some information public could risk


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


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


publicly known, with potentially give assistance. The UK Government


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


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


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


careful about revealing methods of gathering intelligence.


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


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


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


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


severe danger. But families and campaigners fear


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


military files relating to the entire Troubles were open to


destruction because there was no official protection. Only in 2014


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


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


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


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


told us that some nonessential Troubles documents have been


destroyed, but others are already publicly accessible. They said


closed files are retained because of personal or operational


sensitivities. Last week, the McGavigan family


received a draft copy of the Historical Enquiries Team report


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


pay compensation for torture committed by soldiers. This


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


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


to conceal that which might embarrass the Government or the


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


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


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


thousands of files out of Northern Ireland into secret warehouses in


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


HET detectives who were investigating military killings. I


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


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


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


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


opened, they often hold a significant information.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


truth. He now regularly comes here to research government documents


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


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


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


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


records show uniformed and undercover soldiers opening fire in


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


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


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


known that the security forces claimed ahead. The security forces


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


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


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


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


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


logs which suggest the military might have been involved in a


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


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


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


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


them, never, they never knew the truth.


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


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


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


disprove the suggestion that it has suppressed material concerning


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


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


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


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


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


investigations, these former soldiers feel like they are back in


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


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


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


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


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


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


petition to Downing Street protesting at the recent arrest of


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


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


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


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


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


a national security clause to limit historic investigations in Northern


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


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


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


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


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


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


it arguably embraces national embarrassment. If people have died


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


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


retained from the public, from historians and lawyers on national


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


Government or the army ever really give up their Northern Ireland


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


procedures. For former soldiers, that may be an unsettling


acknowledgement that there are questions to answer. But for the


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


and some secrets will stay stuck in the past.


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