Family ‘none the wiser’ over killing

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The family of a Catholic teenager shot dead by an RUC policeman 40 years ago say they never got “any justice” for his killing.

Michael McCartan was gunned down as he painted graffiti on a wall on the Ormeau Road overnight on July 23 1980. The 16-year-old was holding a paintbrush in his hand and had just written the word “Provos” when he was killed.

An RUC member was later tried for murder but acquitted by a judge. He claimed that he thought Michael was holding a gun. The teenager’s brother, Dermot, said the RUC man who shot his brother never personally apologised and that the Crown Forces have never directly addressed the matter with the family.

The circumstances around Michael’s killing remain disputed with experts differing on whether he was shot in the back or the chest. “We are none the wiser,” Dermot said. “There are questions that need to be answered regarding what information is not getting released.”

Mr McCartan, who was 14 when his older brother was killed, said that his brother was due to become an apprentice plasterer at the time of his death and described his as an “ordinary person”.

“He loved dogs and would have gone to the library and got books out on dogs,” he said.

He said that the tragedy had a significant impact on his family and his father Charlie never returned to work. His mother Molly, who is aged 80, continues to live in the Lower Ormeau area.

“The memories my mother has were always good – he (Michael) never brought any trouble to the door.”

A plaque was erected in Michael’s memory close to the spot where he was killed on what would have been his 55th birthday last March.

“In a way I am glad it’s there and it’s a reminder of local people of the bad times and hopefully that’s the bad times gone and we will never go back to how it was,” Dermot said.

Relatives for Justice chief executive Mark Thomson said “that reports showed beyond doubt that Michael was unarmed and the killing unjustified”.

“For Michael’s mother Molly the erecting of the plaque provided community recognition of the injustice and loss endured and that Michael wouldn’t be forgotten,” he said.

“This remains a great source of comfort for her and the family.”

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