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British apology for Aidan McAnespie

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Sceala Irish Craic Forum Discussion:     British apology for Aidan McAnespie

Are the British really saying they regret murdering Aidan McAnespie. Their careful and specific use of words, does not suggest they are.

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NI Secretary of State Shaun Woodward said the government recognised the "suffering" of the McAnespie family.
"It is a matter of deep regret that Aidan was killed by a bullet fired by a soldier which ricocheted from the road," he said.
The statement was co-signed by the Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth.

Ricocheted.
The PSNI Historical Enquiries Team report released last year called the "ricochet excuse" the "least likely" version of what really happened.

Family Welcome Findings of HET Focussed Investigation

The family of Aidan Mc Anespie who was shot and fatally wounded by a British soldier in 1988 have issued the following statement through the Pat Finucane Centre.

Speaking at the weekend Una Mc Anespie, niece of the victim said,

“"Within the last week we have had a further meeting with the Historical Enquiries Team as a follow-up to the interim report which we received earlier this year. That interim report described the officially accepted version of the incident, that the weapon discharge that led to the death of Aidan had been accidental and random, as the“… least likely” explanation.
As agreed we have now been provided with a full resolution report which is the result of the focussed investigation. This report, in our view, is a devastating rebuttal of the British Army version of events and represents the closest that we as a family have got to the truth of what occurred that day.”"

The HET considered three scenarios;
1) Guardsman Holden accidentally discharged the gun in the manner described by him in his statements or in some other unknown and undisclosed circumstances.
2) Guardsman Holden deliberately discharged a burst of aimed shots at the victim or his vicinity.
3) Guardsman Holden was tracking the victim with the gun, or was aiming the gun at him, and being unaware that the gun was cocked and ready to fire, inadvertently discharging the three shots.

In respect of the ‘accidental discharge’ theory, the first scenario, the report concluded,

When the facts that the victim of this alleged random shot was a subject that the soldiers kept under observation, and was perceived by them as a potential terrorist suspect, are added to the equation, then the likelihood that it was a random shot is even less. Add to this the minimum 9lb pressure required to pull the trigger and the probability of ‘accidental firing’ recedes further.

(see unedited HET Conclusions below)

The HET report continued,

“Having weighed up these propositions and taken all the circumstances into account, none of the three scenarios outlined above can be definitively ruled out; Guardsman Holden’s version of events, however, can be considered to be the least likely.”

In respect of the fatal shot the HET concluded,

‘…the chances of it being un-aimed or random seem so remote in the circumstances that they can be virtually disregarded.’

In response Una Mc Anespie said,

“"As a family we feel that a huge burden has been lifted as a result of these latest findings. The claim that Aidan was killed by a ricochet bullet fired at random because a soldier had wet slippy fingers which inadvertently came in contact with the trigger and that Aidan was not being tracked at that precise moment has been firmly rebutted. The official scenario, as accepted by the British Army and the prosecution service, can be regarded as so ‘remote’ that it can be ‘virtually disregarded’.
This investigation examined the circumstances in the context of the harassment that Aidan suffered and Guardsman Holden’s perception of Aidan as the ‘enemy’. The official explanation of the events of Sunday February 21 1988 have been deconstructed in their entirety. My mother, Elish, fought for 20 years to have the truth told. It was a great comfort to her to receive the interim report before she died earlier this summer. These latest findings are a lasting tribute to her efforts and a vindication of our beloved son, brother and uncle Aidan."



Background

On Sunday 21 February 1988, Aidan McAnespie was shot and fatally wounded by a soldier firing a General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG) from the permanent British army checkpoint at Aughnacloy Co. Tyrone. A Grenadier Guardsman, David Holden, was charged with manslaughter but the Director of Public Prosecutions later withdrew this charge.
Holden claimed that he was moving the GPMG when his wet fingers, which were allegedly wet from cleaning the sanger, slipped onto the trigger, which resulted in the discharge of three shots. One of the shots struck Aidan in the back, fatally wounding him. According to the ballistic and forensic evidence, the fatal shot was a ricochet. Guardsman Holden denied that he aimed at Aidan or was tracking him and claimed that the incident was a tragic accident.
Aidan McAnespie was routinely stopped and harassed by the British army as he passed through the Aughnacloy check point on his way to work or going to the GAA club located past the checkpoint. As with many nationalists at the time Aidan was considered by the British army to be an IRA suspect, therefore, his movements were observed and recorded by the soldiers at the check point. He had made numerous complaints to the RUC about the harassment and had raised this in the media. In the minutes before the shooting there is incontrovertible evidence that he was being tracked as he walked through the checkpoint.
Gdsm Holden claimed that he moved the weapon by holding the pistol grip with a “loose grip.” As he did, his finger slipped and he inadvertently pulled the trigger. The HET test fired a GPMG and found that:
“Activating the trigger required having a firm grip on the pistol grip and squeezing the trigger until it activated. It was found to be difficult and required considerable force to activate the trigger without having the hand firmly gripped around the pistol grip.” Therefore, Holden’s loose grip explanation contradicted the results of the practical test on the weapon.
Furthermore, the HET discovered that the gun was mounted on to a pivot, which allowed the weapon to be swivelled. Therefore there was no necessity for Holden to have his hand on the pistol grip and finger on the trigger guard since he only had to swivel the butt of the weapon on the pivot in order to reposition the weapon. In addition another soldier confirmed that he had already repositioned the weapon.
Holden claimed that his hands were still wet from cleaning the Sanger 10 minutes earlier. HET investigators have analysed the activities in the sangar that day which showed that the cleaning was conducted by a cleaning party and that Holden had resumed look- out duty a half hour before the shooting. The ‘wet hands’ scenario is difficult to reconcile with the timing of the cleaning duties.
Lance Sergeant Peters gave evidence that on entering the sangar after the shooting and asking Holden what had happened the reply was that he had squeezed the trigger.

Investigation:

Holden was not interviewed by the RUC until more than 24 hours after the incident. In the intervening period he remained in military custody. There was a further 24 hour delay before the second interview took place.
The crime scene was not forensically examined until the next day and the scene was not secured in the interim. This would result in “crime scene evidence recovered being questionable” according to the HET.

Forensic & Ballistics

The gun had been dismantled and cleaned earlier that day. It has not been established why or by whom the gun was left cocked and with the safety catch off. This was totally in contravention of standing orders.
The forensic evidence concluded that a ricochet bullet, which struck the ground just directly behind Aidan before it entered his body, inflicted the fatal injury.
The weapon discharged three rounds and the fatal bullet was a tracer round. There is now no way of knowing whether the fatal bullet was the first or the last of three shots fired. Swab tests taken from the roadway no longer exist.
If the first shot fired resulted in the ricochet from the fatal strike mark then this could support the assertion that the gun was aimed at the victim or in his vicinity. However, the HET has since discovered that the forensic report gave no consideration to the possibility that the fatal ricochet was a result of the first shot discharged from the weapon. The forensic scientist did not test the stike marks on the road to ascertain which were the result of racer bullets-a test which would have been evidentially important.
It should be noted that there is clear evidence that the Guardsman had Aidan, whom he considered to be a suspect, under close observation as he passed through the checkpoint. However at the moment of discharge Holden claimed to have been physically repositioning the weapon. In other words he claims not to have been aiming at or tracking Aidan when the shots were fired.
The HET report noted
“An impartial and independent observer must question the likelihood of an accidental random discharge striking the roadway only a few feet behind what would be from the vantage point of the machine gun post a miniscule figure at a distance of 283.4 meters. The statistical odds, as outlined by Independent Ballistic expert Keith Borer, are strongly against the accidental discharge theory.”
END



HET Conclusions

This review into the death of Aidan Martin McAnespie has been examined against the below factors:

* The original case investigation
* Exhibits records
* Ballistic evidence
* Family concerns
* Intelligence records
* Analysis of available evidence

The HET concludes that, on the basis of the available evidence: -

Aidan McAnespie died as a result of being struck by a high velocity bullet, which ricocheted from the roadway a short distance behind him and was fired by Guardsman David Holden from a General Purpose Machine Gun located in an upper sangar nearly 300 metres away.

Guardsman Holden has already been interviewed, arrested and charged with manslaughter, although the charge was withdrawn by the DPP at the time, and this review has found no legal grounds or new evidence to justify re-interviewing him or for submitting a file of evidence for reconsideration by the PPS.

The HET has considered the accounts given by the witnesses, in particular the soldiers involved. There are three possible scenarios;

1. Guardsman Holden accidentally discharged the gun in the manner described by him in his statements or in some other unknown and undisclosed circumstances.

2. Guardsman Holden deliberately discharged a burst of aimed shots at the victim or in his vicinity.

3. Guardsman Holden was tracking the victim with the gun, or was aiming the gun at him, and being unaware that the gun was cocked and ready to fire, pulled the trigger, inadvertently discharging the three shots.

There is little doubt that, as a young British soldier in control of a lethal weapon, with a person he considered an IRA suspect in his sights, Guardsman Holden would have felt some antipathy towards the victim; the evidence does not definitively rule out an accidental discharge, but nor does it preclude the possibility that Guardsman Holden deliberately fired the gun at the victim.

It was also suggested in the interview with Guardsman Holden, and is a possibility, that he had been tracking the victim with the gun, or had the gun aimed at him, and had pulled the trigger, unaware that it had been left cocked, resulting in the discharge. The issue of the remains of a dust cap, still in place when the weapon was fired, may support this contention. He denied this account, however.

The accidental discharge version is based on the statement of Guardsman Holden, supported to some degree by the findings of Forensic Scientist and Ballistic expert, Gary Montgomery. The evidence of a ricochet was also used to support this version.

This formed the rationale for the subsequent decisions made by the SIO and his senior officers to recommend no prosecution and possibly then the decision by the DPP not to prosecute.

The opinion of Mr Montgomery, an experienced Forensic Scientist and ballistic expert, undoubtedly warrants serious consideration; however, the HET must assess it on the basis of it being an opinion and, like any opinion, open to debate and challenge.

From a critical (and the family, perspective) it could be argued that his findings were too readily accepted by the police and not subject to any other expert scrutiny until Keith Borer’s submissions in 1990.

He bases his opinion on his expectation that the three bullets fired would have struck in the same area if the weapon had been deliberately discharged from a firm firing position. Yet whilst one of the bullets struck below and to the left of the victim, the other two bullets struck, more or less, in the same area.

Given it is unknown, and likely to remain unknown, exactly under what conditions or circumstances Guardsman Holden fired the weapon, except for his version of events, then Mr Montgomery’s conclusions are arguable and, to some degree, based on assumptions made from the circumstances explained to him; for example, he does not appear to have been invited to consider whether a ‘surprise firing’ resulting from the soldier ‘tracking’ Aidan with the weapon, unaware that it was cocked, might account for the spread of strike marks.

If the nearest/lowest strike mark (KD 1) resulted from the first shot fired from the gun, it would to some degree support the contention that the gun was not aimed at the victim.

However, if the first shot fired, resulted in the ricochet from the fatal strike mark (KD 2) then this could support the assertion that the gun was aimed at the victim or in his vicinity.

In Mr Montgomery’s report, the possibility that the fatal ricochet was as a result of the first shot discharged from the weapon is not examined.

The evidence of the fatal shot being a ricochet is also used to support the accidental discharge version, which is perceived by the family as ruling out the other options; yet an aimed shot, directed close by the target, could also have resulted in an unplanned ricochet with catastrophic consequences. This does not seem to have been considered.

The fact that the bullet struck the roadway only a metre or so behind the victim at a distance of 283.4 metres from the firing point, does not add any great weight to the view that the shooting was accidental and conversely could indicate that the gun was deliberately aimed towards him.

An impartial and objective observer must question the likelihood of an accidental, random discharge striking the roadway only a few feet behind, what would be from the vantage point of the machine gun post, a miniscule figure at a distance of 283.4 metres. The statistical odds, as outlined by Independent Ballistic expert Keith Borer, are strongly against the accidental discharge account.

When the facts that the victim of this alleged random shot was a subject that the soldiers had kept under observation, and was perceived by them as a potential terrorist suspect, are added to the equation, then the likelihood that it was a random shot is even less. Add to this the minimum 9lb pressure required to pull the trigger and the probability of ‘accidental firing’ recedes further.

Having weighed up these propositions and taken all the circumstances into account, none of the three scenarios outlined can be definitively ruled out; Guardsman Holden’s version of events, however, can be considered to be the least likely.

The HET cannot judge, on the available evidence, whether the shot was fired deliberately or unintentionally. The fact that the dust cover was in place, and the possibility that the weapon may well have been left cocked without the knowledge of Guardsman Holden, may support the view that the actual discharge was unintentional. However, the chances of it being un-aimed or random seem to be so remote in the circumstances that they can be virtually disregarded.

This leaves the option of a deliberate shot, or the option that Guardsman Holden was ‘tracking’ Aidan with his weapon aimed, and was unaware that the weapon was cocked when the trigger was pulled.

The family believe that it was a deliberate shot, either to kill Aidan or aimed nearby to scare him.

In the final analysis, the HET is of the view that, whatever the truth of the matter in this case, it is unlikely that the GPMG was discharged in the circumstances, or in the manner, described by Guardsman Holden.

Press statement issued on behalf of the family of Aidan Mc Anespie
June 24 2008)
The family of Aidan Mc Anespie who was shot and fatally wounded by a British soldier in 1988 have welcomed the findings of the Historical Enquiry Team into the controversial killing. The HET has concluded that, of the possible scenarios that led to the fatal shooting, the version of events as suggested by the soldier who shot Aidan “could be considered to be the least likely.” The report went on to find that,
“In the final analysis, the HET is of the view that, whatever the truth of the matter in this case, it is unlikely that the GPMP (General Purpose Machine Gun) was discharged in the circumstances, or in the manner, described by Guardsman Holden.”

Speaking earlier today Elish Mc Anespie, sister of the victim, said,

“We welcome the fact that the HET has highlighted the glaring inconsistencies in the official version of events. It was claimed that the soldier was in the process of physically lifting and moving the GPMG and that his finger slipped onto the trigger thus ‘accidentally’ firing off three shots one of which ricocheted off the road striking Aidan.

Reluctantly we have come to terms with the reality that the full truth may never be established. Only Guardsman Holden and others on duty that terrible Sunday know what really happened but at least we have an official report which rejects the accepted version of the incident . We accept that there are difficulties to legally justify reopening the case so many years on. Though we do not believe that we can find justice through the criminal justice system we have attained some measure of truth, truth for Aidan, truth for us as a family and truth for the wider community who supported us and never believed the official story. We have never believed that Aidan died as the result of a series of random disconnected coincidences with no relationship to how he was perceived by those who harassed him on a daily basis.”

Background:

On Sunday 21 February 1988, Aidan McAnespie was shot and fatally wounded by a soldier firing a General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG) from the permanent British army checkpoint at Aughnacloy. A Grenadier Guardsman, David Holden, was charged with manslaughter but the Director of Public Prosecutions later withdrew this charge.

Holden claimed that he was moving the GPMG when his wet fingers, which were allegedly wet from cleaning the sanger, slipped onto the trigger, which resulted in the discharge of three shots. One of the shots struck Aidan in the back, fatally wounding him. According to the ballistic and forensic evidence, the fatal shot was a ricochet. Guardsman Holden denied that he aimed at Aidan or was tracking him and claimed that the incident was a tragic accident.

Aidan McAnespie was routinely stopped and harassed by the British army as he passed through the Aughnacloy check point on his way to work or going to the GAA club located past the checkpoint. As with many nationalists at the time Aidan was considered by the British army to be an IRA suspect, therefore, his movements were observed and recorded by the soldiers at the check point. He had made numerous complaints to the RUC about the harassment and had raised this in the media. In the minutes before the shooting there is incontrovertible evidence that he was being tracked as he walked through the checkpoint.

Gdsm Holden claimed that he moved the weapon by holding the pistol grip with a “loose grip.” As he did, his finger slipped and he inadvertently pulled the trigger. The HET test fired a GPMG and found that:

“Activating the trigger required having a firm grip on the pistol grip and squeezing the trigger until it activated. It was found to be difficult and required considerable force to activate the trigger without having the hand firmly gripped around the pistol grip.” Therefore, Holden’s loose grip explanation contradicted the results of the practical test on the weapon.

Furthermore, the HET discovered that the gun was mounted on to a pivot, which allowed the weapon to be swivelled. Therefore there was no necessity for Holden to have his hand on the pistol grip and finger on the trigger guard since he only had to swivel the butt of the weapon on the pivot in order to reposition the weapon. In addition another soldier confirmed that he had already repositioned the weapon.

Holden claimed that his hands were still wet from cleaning the Sanger 10 minutes earlier. HET investigators have analysed the activities in the sangar that day which showed that the cleaning was conducted by a cleaning party and that Holden had resumed look- out duty a half hour before the shooting. The ‘wet hands’ scenario is difficult to reconcile with the timing of the cleaning duties.

Lance Sergeant Peters gave evidence that on entering the sangar after the shooting and asking Holden what had happened the reply was that he had squeezed the trigger.

Investigation:

Holden was not interviewed until more than 24 hours after the incident. In the intervening period he remained in military custody. There was a further 24 hour delay before the second interview took place.

The crime scene was not examined by the FSNI until the next day and there is no record of any scene protection in the interim. This would result in “crime scene evidence recovered being questionable” according to the HET.

Forensic & Ballistics:

The gun had been dismantled and cleaned earlier that day. It has not been established why or by whom the gun was left cocked and with the safety catch off. This was totally in contravention of standing orders.

The forensic evidence concluded that a ricochet bullet, which struck the ground just directly behind Aidan before it entered his body, inflicted the fatal injury.

The weapon discharged three rounds and the fatal bullet was a tracer round. There is now no way of knowing whether the fatal bullet was the first or the last of three shots fired. Swab tests taken from the roadway no longer exist.

If the first shot fired resulted in the ricochet from the fatal strike mark then this could support the assertion that the gun was aimed at the victim or in his vicinity. However, the HET has since discovered that the forensic report gave no consideration to the possibility that the fatal ricochet was a result of the first shot discharged from the weapon.

It should be noted that there is clear evidence that the Guardsman had Aidan, whom he considered to be a suspect, under close observation as he passed through the checkpoint. However at the moment of discharge Holden claimed to have been physically repositioning the weapon. In otherwords he claims not to have been aiming at or tracking Aidan when the shots were fired.

The HET questions “the likelihood of an accidental random discharge striking the roadway only a few feet behind what would be from the vantage point of the machine gun post a miniscule figure at a distance of 283.4 meters”

Having weighed up all the propositions and taken all the circumstances into account Guardsman Holden’s version of events “could be considered to be the least likely” according to the Historical Enquiry Team.

Commenting on the above Elish Mc Anespie said,

“WE agree with the conclusion of this report which states that “whatever the truth of the matter in this case, it is unlikely that the GPMG was discharged in the circumstances, or in the manner, described by Guardsmen Holden.”

“This report vindicates our family and our long campaign for justice. We have always rejected the theory that Aidan was killed by a ricochet bullet fired at random because a soldier had wet slippy fingers which inadvertently came in contact with the trigger and that Aidan was not being tracked at that precise moment. This report should be read by the British and Irish Governments, the Chief Constable, the Prosecution Service, the Ministry of Defence and the relevant authorities in the FSNI. And those in authority should at least have the decency to feel a sense of shame.”

Finally we wish to express our disappointment and frustration at the refusal of the Irish Department of Justice to allow us access to the Gardai (Crowley) report into Aidan’s shooting. Repeated approaches were made to the Gardai and Justice Department on our behalf by the Pat Finucane Centre and others however we have been refused. Many people in Monagahan and Tyrone co-operated with the Gardai at our behest but now we are not permitted to see the report even where we requested that a redacted version be made available with all witnesses remaining anonymous.

THE EXECUTION OF AIDAN MC ANESPIE
Eilish Mc Anespie

It is of paramount importance that the killing of my brother, Aidan Mc Anespie, on the 21st of February 1988, is not viewed as an isolated incident but rather as the result of systematic and routine victimisation for several years by British crown forces. These include members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, the Ulster Defence Regiment and the British Army.

My brother, Aidan McAnespie, was the youngest of a family of six children. He was born in Aughnacloy, a predominantly loyalist village situated on the border with the Republic of Ireland. The area historically had a high unemployment rate, that is, for those nationalists living there. As a consequence, Aidan looked for work across the border and was fortunate enough to get a job in a poultry processing plant in Monaghan town, some ten miles south of Aughnacloy. To go to work each day, Aidan had to pass through a permanent British Army checkpoint at the southern side of the village. As a result, the security forces became familiar with him and often asked him to remove his car from the road for what was termed a "routine search". They would then take the car apart, removing door panels and wheels. They would also search through his lunch with their bare hands saying, "You'll be late for work today Aidan". Aidan made complaints to his trade union about these incidents who made representations on his behalf, but the harassment continued unabated.

On other occasions they would ask him to remove his coat, shoes and socks in the rain. When he refused, they would put him on the ground and one soldier stood on his throat while another pulled off his shoes and socks. Aidan made complaints to his local R.U.C. station. It was not unusual for Aidan to be taken into the British Army base for a vehicle search two or three times a week and the car pulled apart. The harassment got so bad that he stopped driving through the checkpoint, instead he would drive to the filling station just south of the checkpoint and would phone my mother. She would then cycle down through the town and out past the checkpoint and walk back through with Aidan. On one occasion a soldier shouted after them, "Are you trying to protect your son Mrs McAnespie?".

Aidan contacted newspapers seeking the protection that publicity might have given him and one national newspaper carried a story describing him as the most harassed person in Ireland. He could have wallpapered his room with official complaints made to the R.U.C. both through solicitors and the local parish priest. Aidan's life evolved around the continual threat of harassment and physical violence at best and the real threat of being killed at worst. A soldier stopped my father about a year before the shooting and asked, "Are you Aidan's father?". When he said he was, the soldier said, "We have a bullet here for him."

On the 21st of February 1988, Aidan parked his car at the northern side of the checkpoint and walked towards the local G.A.A. pitch, which was just south of the checkpoint. He had only walked three hundred yards when a single bullet from a heavy calibre machine gun cut him down, in the prime of his life, on a lovely sunny afternoon, while on the way to a Gaelic football match. Aidan's life was taken, his killer watched him walk towards the football pitch, aimed and fired to kill. This is the view of our family and many community and church leaders. The then Cardinal and Primate of all Ireland described the killing as murder.

In stark contrast the British Army described the incident as a tragic accident. They claimed, firstly, that the gun used was being passed from one soldier to another when it was accidentally discharged. This account later changed to one of accidental discharge when the gun was in the process of being cleaned. Because the the north of Ireland Office's statement of what happened supported this version, all subsequent investigations carried out by the R.U.C. was mobilised to support this explanation of events.

In actual fact, the security force explanation was so incredible that they had to create evidence to support their claim. For example, eye witnesses saw a man coming out of a sanger from which Aidan was shot, wearing casual clothes and sports shoes. The next day the army had a number of their people painting the checkpoint in casual clothing. Aidan's car was parked close to the checkpoint in a nationalist housing estate. On the day of the funeral eye witnesses saw a man remove it. Our family phoned the local R.U.C. station to report it missing. They said that they knew nothing about it but to try C.I.D. in Dungannon. C.I.D. in Dungannon were not aware of the missing car, we then phoned the local police to report the stolen car. The press got to hear about the missing car and shortly after speaking to the police a local journalist could tell the family that the car was removed by the police for its safety. It seems incredible that of all the cars parked in the housing estate this was the only car in some kind of danger.

In addition, the army claimed, that due to the accidental discharge of the weapon three shots were fired, one of which ricocheted off the road hitting Aidan. Local people living nearby say the army reconstructed this account of things when, as darkness fell, a flashing light was placed at the spot where Aidan was shot and three shots were heard to be fired. It is widely believed that the army fired the shots to mark the road to support their ricochet theory. When challenged by the press, the army claimed that they came under fire from terrorists, a claim denied by the I.R.A. and local people nearby who say no attack of the kind took place.

A soldier, David J.Holden, was charged with unlawful killing. While on this charge he was allowed to go home to his family in England. Approximately six months later all charges were dropped. At Aidan's inquest, the coroner, Roger Mc Lernon, said the death was a cause of "profound regret" and was "avoidable and should have been avoided". The R.U.C. stated at the inquest and it was repeated by the coroner, that there was no suggestion that Aidan had ever been involved in any form of illegal activity. Guardsman Holden was not compelled to attend the inquest. The coroner advised the jury that although the soldier was entitled under law not to attend his unsworn statement should be treated with caution. The only other soldier in the sanger when the fatal shot was fired was conveniently absent without leave for the six months previous to the inquest. The coroner said, this was "amazing" and of "profound concern". Our family was not present at this inquest because we had no faith in its ability to discover the truth and we have a series of unanswered questions:

Why did the gun that killed Aidan have a live round in its breach while being cleaned?
Why was it cocked?
Why was the safety catch off?
How could David Holden's hands still be slippery and wet, ten minutes after he finished washing sanger walls?
Is it possible to accidentally exert nine pounds of pressure on a weapon's trigger, pulling it backwards and upwards?
Why was Holden out of uniform, wearing what appeared to be a track suit when he left the sanger under police escort after the shooting?
How could the the north of Ireland Office release a definitive statement of the shooting less than an hour after it had taken place?
Was this a rigorous investigation?

It must be remembered that this is in no way the only incident of its type. The S.A.S., the British Army and R.U.C. have been involved in the murders of hundreds of nationalists in controversial circumstances. On the day of Aidan's funeral the only serving member of the British Army, Private Thain, to be convicted of killing an Irish person, Kidso Reilly, was set free after serving just over two years of a life sentence and is back with the army on "active service". Holden was subsequently released on charges of not taking proper care of a weapon and was disciplined in a military tribunal. He has since been discharged on medical grounds and is a free man. We are now told that it is important to build for the future.

If we are to overcome our past we must come to terms with it and we can only do that if we know the truth about it. The British must acknowledge the atrocities which they have carried out on the Irish people.

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