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BBC
16 May 2012

Soldiers acted lawfully in shooting dead a member of the IRA in Derry, a report has found.

The Historical Enquiries Team looked into the death of Seamus Bradley in the Creggan area of the city during Operation Motorman in July 1972.

It said his death was never “effectively investigated”.

However, the report said that if the soldiers were telling the truth about the shooting, then they had operated within army rules and the law.

According to the HET report, Mr Bradley was shot and killed by a soldier from the Royal Scots Regiment.

The report said that in the early hours of Monday 31 July, members of the regiment went to the Creggan area to secure wasteground.

The soldier who fired said he saw him run towards some trees, carrying what looked like a sub-machine gun and then climbed a tree.

The soldier said he fired four times and Seamus Bradley fell from the tree.

The report said it was almost an hour later when some other soldiers went to Mr Bradley and took him to St Peter’s school where an army medical post had been set up. He was formally pronounced dead there.

Mr Bradley’s brother, Danny, has disputed the location and circumstances of the shooting.

In evidence given to the HET, he said he had been with Seamus the night he had been killed.

He said a group of 15, including himself and Seamus went to Creggan shops, some wearing masks. A nail bomb was thrown into the road.

He said they felt “trapped” by the Army, he said that Seamus was shot twice by a soldier, and he was then driven away.

The report said it took nearly an hour for soldiers to find Seamus, and when they did get to him, a search of the area was carried out but no weapon was found.

The HET said that either there was no weapon in the first place or it had been removed.

The report added that had Mr Bradley been recovered from the scene earlier he may have survived.

Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney said: “The HET report into the death of Seamus Bradley has not in anyway resolved the questions as to why Seamus was allowed to die.

“Given the recent revelation in a report by Dr Patricia Lundy which stated that the HET gave preference to and did not properly investigate British Army soldiers I am concerned that the HET report into Seamus Bradley’s death had the line, ‘If the soldiers were telling the truth then Seamus Bradley was killed lawfully’.

“If there is the slightest doubt that the soldiers were not telling the truth then the HET should not has issued its findings as lawful death. Many of the other witnesses have given different statement as to how and where Seamus was shot, as well as no weapon being found despite the fact that the British soldier said Seamus was armed with a sub machine gun.

“I am also horrified to learn that if Seamus had have been given immediate medical treatment he most probably would have survived, and questions need to be asked if this is true, why he was allowed to lie injured without receiving medical aid.

“It is important that the truth of the matter is brought out into the open and I believe that this inquiry has failed to do that in every way.”

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By Ian Cullen
Derry Journal
4 February 2012

A former top secret briefing document signed off by the commander of British Army Ground forces in Derry during Operation Motorman reveals the entire plan for the storming of ‘no go’ areas in the city. In this article IAN CULLEN explores the details of the paper which was released by the Public Records Office to legal teams acting in the recent inquest into the shooting dead of 15 year-old Daniel Hegarty .

Soldiers stormed Derry’s no-go areas expecting to fire “thousands of rounds” during Operation Motorman, according to the blueprint for what was a part of the biggest British military operation since the Suez crisis.

Almost 40 years on and the ‘Journal’ can now reveal the extent to the British army was willing to go to “neutralise the gunmen” in the Bogside and Creggan, according to once highly classified documents obtained from the Public Records Office in Kew, London. The document, which was signed off by A.P.W. (Patrick) McLellan, Brigadeer, Commander 8th Infantry Brigade on July 29, 1972 maps out the details of how events were supposed to unfold during Operation Carcan (the name given to the Derry action as part of the Northern Ireland-wide Operation Motorman) which by the end of the first day saw the shooting dead of two people, one a 15 year-old boy, and serious wounding of another teenager.

It states that the British Government decided on “resolute action” against the Provisional IRA following the breaking of the ‘bi lateral truce’ ceasefire which began in June 1972 to facilitate the famous Cheyne Walk talks between a delegation including Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness and Whitehall representatives led by then Secretary of State William Whitelaw.

The briefing paper states that the offensive action of flooding Derry with many hundreds of heavily armed troops, accompanied by Centurion tanks and other heavy machinery, was designed to “root out the terrorists once and for all”.

It further states that the Provisional IRA action in light of the operation was expected to take “one of two forms”, the more likely of which was to fight with the possibility of combatants going to ground being deemed “unlikely after their frequent boats that the security forces will not be allowed to occupy the Creggan and Bogside again”.

The following extract indicates what the of how the soldiers from the various regiments deployed to Derry on July 31, 1972 expected to be greeted in the city. “There may be fierce firefights lasting perhaps 2/3 hours. Thousands of rounds may be fired and there may be some civilian casualties. IRA positions will be quickly pinpointed and effective action will be taken against them, including hot pursuit. Thereafter sporadic sniping and the occasional ambush or bomb attack is likely to be the extent of IRA operations . . . Although from the start of the operation there is a danger that routes and houses may be booby-trapped or mined.”

Several British army regiments were in action during Operation Carcan including the Coldstream Guards, Kings Own Border, Royal Scots Regiment, Light Infantry Regiment, Royal Green Jackets, Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, Royal Horse Guards, Ulster Defence Regiment, and Medical Regiment.

After the activation of Operation SPONDON – the standing plan to seal off the border areas – the plan was to bus troops into the city using armoured personnel carriers (APCs) accompanied by tanks and an assault vehicle of the Royal Engineers (AVRE) to remove the barricades “as quickly as possible”.

“Within minutes it is the intention that the whole area will be saturated and held, thereby avoiding any prolonged street fighting,” the document states.

It further states that there will be “no firing unless vehicles are ambushed or it is essential to return fire”.

The documents anticipates “total domination” of the ‘no-go’ areas within 2-3 days, although it outlines that subsequent interrogation and intelligence gathering may last anything up to three months “by which time it is anticipates that the Provisional IRA in Londonderry will be neutralised and demoralised”.

Certain houses and known IRA combatants “will require particular attention”, according to the document which includes an annex with the heading ‘Alphabetical list of all known IRA members’. Although the members identities are not disclosed in the document – which was released by public records office to legal teams acting in the recent inquest into the shooting dead of 15 year-old Daniel Hegarty by a Royal Scots Regiment soldier armed with a general purpose machine gun (GPMA) at Creggan Heights during the operation – it does contain a detailed list of weapons believed to be held by both wings of the IRA in Derry at the time. The extensive list includes grenades, flamethrowers, mines, various heavy and light machine guns (including around 75 Armalites and several belt-fed Browning machine guns), shotguns, sidearms, explosives, detonators, anti-tank rifles and even a Luger.

The briefing paper makes clear that it will be impossible to conceal that the operation is imminent in the hours before “D-Day” as the amount of troop movement will be visible to all. However, with hindsight senior British army officers were said to have been dismayed at the very least that on the eve of the action William Whitelaw announced on the evening news that the major operation was about to happen.

As Major David Dickson told the recent fresh inquest into the death of Daniel Hegarty – who was found to be completely innocent when he was shot by a soldier in the platoon commanded by the then Lieutenant – that the Secretary of State’s public announcement “destroyed the element of surprise”. “It gave the other side a better chance to finish their defences . . . it increased the level of danger we were all facing,” he said. Major Dickson also told the coroner’s court that he and his men were “prepared for battle” in the Creggan and had intelligence that there was a mine field at Piggery Ridge, which was their entry point into the ‘no go’ area.

In fact ,the result of the Whitelaw announcement and earlier intelligence reports led to the IRA actually going to ground, relocating en mass to south of the border refuges in Donegal.

Although there were no IRA confrontations with the British army on the day, the use of force was clear in the Brigadeer McLellan’s briefing paper. “IRA armed attacks and other forms of violence are to be defeated by resolute armed action in accordance with the rules of engagement . . . soldiers may also fire without warning under para 12 of the Yellow Card [a guide for soldiers on using force – ed].”

It also outlines action to be taken against “passive resistance”, citing the example of “women sitting on roads”. The actions include ordering them to disperse, trying to go around, using water canon and even using CS smoke.

The document stresses several times that action is to be taken against the IRA and not the Catholic population. However, the people of the Bogside and Creggan and many well beyond were left in no doubt as to their beliefs of the operation after on the fatal shootings of Daniel Hegarty and unarmed IRA volunteer Seamus Bradley, and the wounding of Daniel’s cousin Christopher. Anticipating such a reaction, the document even states that the Unit Public Relations Officers “should make every effort to collect and conduct press and TV men in their areas in the hope that the news men will subsequently give a balanced report to their readers and viewers on the proceedings.”

Derry Journal
Monday 12 December 2011

Northern Ireland’s Senior Coroner John Leckey is to consider whether to refer the case of a Derry teenager shot by the British army in Creggan in 1972 to the Public Prosecution Service.

Mr Leckey said he would consider whether the findings of a jury, which completely exhonerated 15 year-old Daniel Hegarty, point to any criminal offence.

After almost four hours of deliberation, a ten-strong jury in the inquest into the shooting dead of the teenager during Operation Motorman on July 31, 1972 found that he “posed no threat to anyone”.

In a unanimous verdict, following a five day hearing at Derry court house, the jury rejected claims that warnings had been given, stating that they believed “no soldier shouted sufficient warnings” before opening fire. Daniel was shot twice in the head while his cousin Christopher (17) was wonded in the head.

“Contrary to the statements from soldiers A (section commander) and B (who opened fire with a general purpose machine gun or GPMG) we do not believe soldier B provided sufficient warnings before opening fire, therefore warnings should have been given,” the jury stated.

They further found that after the shooting “no attempt” was made to approach the injured teenagers, either to search them or render assistance.

The jurors also stated that, given the circumstances surrounding Operation Carcan (the name given to Operation Motorman in Derry) and the climate in Northern Ireland, “the perception that there would be tension and resistance encountered during the operation” would have resulted in heightened tension within the Royal Scots platoon which opened fire on the boys.

The jury also noted that Platoon Commander Major Dickson told the inquest that he was “not aware” of any contingency plan to deal with encountering civilians, including children, “injured or otherwise”. The jury further noted that, the firing of heavy weapons such as a GPMG was to be authorised by the company commander and a full account to be taken of the risk, adding that “this does not appear to have been relayed to the company”.

The announcement by then Secretary of State William Whitelaw on the eve of Operation Motorman that the clearing of ‘no go’ areas was to take place the following day was also stated by the jury to be a “relevant” factor to the circumstances in which the death occurred.

This was the second inquest into Daniel Hegarty’s death.

The initial inquest was held in 1973 and recorded an open verdict. A second inquest was ordered by the Attorney General in 2009 following an examination by the Historical Enquiries Team.

The report found that the RUC investigation at the time was “hopelessly inadequate and dreadful”. In 2007, the British government apologised to the Hegarty family after describing Daniel as a terrorist.

A Ministry of Defence document, assessing the Army’s role in Northern Ireland, also incorrectly claimed the 15-year-old was armed.

BBC
10 Dec 2011

The solicitor for the family of a boy shot dead by a soldier almost 40 years ago has said they are “overwhelmed” by the findings of an inquest jury.

On Friday the jurors unanimously found that 15-year-old Daniel Hegarty posed no risk when he was shot twice in Londonderry during Operation Motorman in July 1972.

His cousin Christopher was also wounded.

Des Doherty said prosecutions were now a “definite possibility”.

“The full rigour of the law has to be applied and it is now of course a matter for the coroner,” the solicitor said.

“This case was not about vengeance. It was about justice.”

The jury rejected claims that warnings had been shouted to the two teenagers before they were shot.

The operation was aimed at reclaiming “no go areas” in the city from the IRA.

Daniel, who was a labourer, was shot twice in the head by a soldier close to his home in Creggan. His cousin Christopher, 16, was shot in the head by the same soldier but survived.

The jury found that none of the soldiers present attempted to “approach the injured youths to either search them or provide medical assistance”.

Mr Doherty said the record had now been “set straight”.

This is the second inquest into Daniel’s death.

The initial inquest was held in 1973 and recorded an open verdict. A second inquest was ordered by the Attorney General in 2009 following an examination by the Historical Enquiries Team.

The report found that the RUC investigation at the time was “hopelessly inadequate and dreadful”.

The inquest opened on Monday and heard from Daniel’s sister Margaret Brady. She described how her mother continued to set a place for him at the table and call him for dinner for months after his death.

In 2007, the British government apologised to the Hegarty family after describing Daniel as a terrorist.

Derry Journal
Friday 9 December 2011

Jurors at the inquest into the 1972 British Army killing of Derry teenager Daniel Hegarty are to begin considering their verdict this afternoon.

Coroner Mr John Lecky is to address the jury at noon following the hearing of evidence on the fatal shooting of the 15 year-old boy during Operation Motorman in Derry. Evidence in what was one of the most controversial killings of the Troubles was heard at Derry courthouse over the last four days. Daniel Hegarty was wounded twice in the head at Creggan Heights in the company of his cousins Thomas (15) and Christopher (17), who was also wounded in the incident, in the early hours of July 31, 1972.

The final statement read to the inquest yesterday was from the commander of the British Army (8th Infantry Brigade) in Derry during Operation Motorman, the largest British Army operation to be mounted since the Suez Crisis in 1956. Major General Brigadier Patrick MacLellan outlined the thinking behind the operation, which was known as Operation Carcan in Derry and said it was designed to “restore law and order” to Creggan and the Bogside.

The inquest also heard from a forensic scientist and ballistics expert, Leo Rossi, who said that Daniel – who the court heard earlier was 5’3” in height and of thin build – was shot from as little as eight feet away.

Mr Rossi said he had made an assessment of the evidence with regards to the ballistics of the case and that he had visited the scene of the shooting in 2010.

He said that Daniel had been shot by rounds from a General Purpose Machine Gun, a weapon capable of firing 800 rounds per minute.

The court heard that some of the soldiers in the Platoon stated that the gun was mounted on the pavement on a bipod and that the soldier who had fired the shots, who was identified as ‘Soldier B’, had fired from the ground. Mr Rossi said that the angle of the wounds on Daniel Hegarty meant that the gun “would have had to be positioned higher than at ground level”. Mr. Rossi suggested that the gun was fired either from the soldier’s hip or resting on top of a hedge.

A statement from ‘Soldier B’, which was read to the court, said he saw one of the three youths with something in his right hand which he thought could be a revolver or a nail bomb and that he fired from a range of about 25 yards.

Mr Rossi concluded that the fatal shots were fired from “an unknown distance which is thought to be approximately eight feet from the deceased”.

The inquest is the second into Daniel Hegarty’s death. It was set up after an investigation by the Historical Enquiries Team found that the RUC investigation in 1972 was “hopelessly inadequate and dreadful”. In 2007, the Ministry of Defence apologised to Daniel’s family for a document which incorrectly described him as a terrorist and claimed he had been armed. The MOD said it accepted Daniel was innocent.

BBC
7 Dec 2011

The inquest into the death of Derry teenager Daniel Hegarty in 1972 has heard evidence from his cousin, who was shot on the same day.

Fifteen-year-old Daniel was shot twice in the head by a soldier during Operation Motorman in Derry on 31 July.

On the third day of the inquest, his cousin, Christopher Hegarty, told the coroner John Leckey he could think of no reason why they were fired at.

Christopher Hegarty still has a scar on his head from where he was shot.

He told the coroners’ court, stting at Bishop Street Courthouse in Derry, that the nerves on his left hand are still affected as a result of the injury.

The court heard that a Royal Scots Regiment soldier fired three shots from a general purpose machine-gun.

Mr Hegarty, who was 17 at the time, said that he, Daniel and his brother, Thomas Hegarty, walked past an armed soldier in a doorway in Creggan Heights in the early hours of Operation Motorman.

He said the three of them were frightened and walked away from the soldier. He said the soldier did not shout at them and none of the three were carrying anything.

Mr Hegarty said that when they were about 12 yards away, the soldier opened fire. The three of them hit the ground and he believes he passed out for about a minute.

When he came to, his head was bleeding. He said he put his arm around his cousin Daniel, who was lying face up on the footpath beside him.

He said: “I then pulled Daniel towards me. He was not moving. I just knew he was dead.”

Mr Hegarty said after the shooting no soldier spoke to them nor did they approach them. He said his brother Thomas helped him up and shouted to a neighbour for help.

He told the court he then passed out again and woke up later in Altnagelvin Hospital where he stayed for four or five days. He said he knew of no reason why he and his cousin were shot.

The inquest continues.

Derry Journal
6 December 2011

British soldiers threatened to kill again after shooting dead a 15 year-old boy during Operation Motorman in Derry, a fresh inquest into his death has heard.

Daniel Hegarty was shot twice in the head on July 31, 1972, as British soldiers stormed the Creggan and Bogside ‘no-go’ areas in a pre-arranged operation. During the inquest, which began yesterday at Derry courthouse, evidence is to be heard from several British army personnel, including the soldier who fired the shots which killed Daniel Hegarty.

Major General Brigadier Patrick MacLellan, the British Army Commander in Derry during Operation Motorman and Bloody Sunday, will also give evidence.

Daniel’s sister, Mrs Margaret Brady, told the inquest that a soldier shouted “Get the f****** lights out or there’ll be another corpse” moments after the killing of her older brother at Creggan Heights.

Mrs Brady, who was 14 years-old at the time, also told the coroner’s hearing that the men in army uniforms “destroyed” her family.

She recalled that when a local parish priest came to the family home after the shooting, her mother, Mary Margaret Hegarty, asked for a Mass to be said for the soldier who pulled the trigger as “he would need it more”.

“For the next month after Daniel’s death my mother would still put his dinner out and call him for it,” she said.

A statement from Daniel’s father, the late Alexander Hegarty, outlined how the teenager had often helped him with ‘freelance welfare work’, protecting shops and disorder in Creggan, and “occasionally helped the police”. He said his son was not a member of any republican organisation and had begun work as a labourer.

Counsel for Coroner John Lecky read a newspaper report from several weeks prior to Daniel’s death which stated that the teenager had been rewarded by the British Army for reporting a guns’ find to the police.

The report stated that a British army Lieutenant Colonel was “grateful” to Daniel for turning the find in.

A statement from William Morrin, who carried the body of Daniel into his home, stated that he heard no warning that soldiers intended to open fire before hearing “a burst of automatic fire” outside his home.

The inquest continues today and is due to last at least two weeks.

It was set up after an investigation by the Historical Enquiries Team found that the RUC investigation at the time was “hopelessly inadequate and dreadful”. In 2007, the Ministry of Defence apologised to Daniel’s family for a document which incorrectly described him as a terrorist and claimed he had been armed.

The MoD said it accepted Daniel was innocent and that the reference to him as a terrorist was inaccurate.

BBC
6 Dec 2011

A former MP and civil rights leader said the IRA left the Bogside area of Derry before the British army mounted Operation Motorman in July 1972.

Ivan Cooper was giving evidence at a new inquest into the killing of 15-year-old Daniel Hegarty.

In 1972 there were a number of “no go areas” for the British army in Derry

The teenager was shot by the British Army during the operation on 31 July 1972.

The operation was aimed at reclaiming “no go areas” in the city from the IRA.

Daniel, who was a labourer, was shot twice in the head by a soldier close to his home in Creggan.

This is the second inquest into his death.

The initial inquest was held in 1973 and recorded an open verdict. A second inquest was ordered by the Attorney General in 2009 following an examination by the Historical Enquiries Team.

The report found that the RUC investigation at the time was “hopelessly inadequate and dreadful”.

It also said Daniel “posed no threat whatsoever” when the soldiers opened fire.

“Avoid bloodshed”

On Tuesday, Mr Cooper, who was MP for Mid Derry at the time, said he had met with the commander of the RUC in the city the day before Operation Motorman and was told about the military plan.

He then told Coroner John Leckey that he went to visit the Bogside home of fellow MP John Hume to tell him what he knew.

Daniel was shot dead during Operation Motorman

After leaving Mr Hume’s home he said he saw a car which he knew to be an IRA staff car and signalled to the car to stop.

Mr Cooper said he had met the driver previously in his attempts to get the IRA to stop its campaign of violence.

He told the driver the army would be coming into the Bogside the following day and that the IRA should get out to “avoid bloodshed”.

He said it was common knowledge on the day of Operation Motorman that the IRA had left the no-go areas “en masse” and gone to County Donegal.

The inquest opened on Monday and heard from Daniel’s sister Margaret Brady. She described how her mother continued to set a place for him at the table and call him for dinner for months after his death.

In 2007, the British government apologised to the Hegarty family after describing Daniel as a terrorist.

A Ministry of Defence document, assessing the Army’s role in Northern Ireland, also incorrectly claimed the 15-year-old was armed.

GEORGE JACKSON
Irish Times
6 Dec 2011

AN INQUEST opened in Derry yesterday into the fatal shooting of a 15-year-old boy by a British soldier in the city almost 40 years ago.

Daniel Hegarty, who worked as a labourer at a local paper mill, was shot twice in the head by a soldier from the Royal Scots Regiment at Creggan Heights near his Swilly Gardens home on the morning of Operation Motorman on July 31st, 1972.

The operation was then the biggest British military operation since the Suez crisis and was designed to regain control of the no-go areas in the North from the Provisional IRA.

The original inquest into Daniel’s death was held in Derry in October 1973.

The jury returned an open verdict. However, following a reinvestigation by the PSNI’s Historical Enquiries Team into the original police investigation, a fresh inquest was ordered by the Attorney General.

The new inquest, before the North’s senior coroner John L Leckey, opened before a jury yesterday in the same Bishop Street courthouse room as the original 1973 inquest.

Present yesterday were Daniel’s three sisters Margaret Brady, the applicant for the second inquest, Catherine Devenney and Philomena Conaghan.

Also present was Daniel’s cousin Christopher Hegarty who received a glancing bullet wound to the head in the same incident.

Among those legally represented are the ministry of defence, the coroner, the applicant and the PSNI.

The jurors were told the soldier who fired the fatal shots had been granted anonymity and would be known as soldier B.

The coroner told the jurors that the original postmortem findings of Daniel’s cause of death remained the same.

They were that the teenager was hit in the head by two bullets fired by soldier B.

One bullet entered the left temple before exiting at the back of the head.

The second bullet caused a deep graze to the forehead.

Among those scheduled to give evidence to the inquest, which is expected to last until next week, is Maj Gen Patrick MacLellan, who was commander of the 8th Infantry Brigade in Derry at the time of Operation Motorman and also during Bloody Sunday seven months earlier.

Bobby Sands mural photo
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