Family’s concern at Tory bid to shut down legal options

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The daughter of a Catholic man killed by an undercover British army unit 50 years ago this month has said his killing tore her family apart.

Patrick McVeigh was shot dead by members of the British army’s Military Reaction Force (MRF) in May 1972, aged 44.

Disbanded in 1973, the MRF was a paramilitary-style British army unit which carried out the murder of Catholic civilians. Mr McVeigh was killed after he stopped at a checkpoint. Several other men were injured during the incident.

His daughter Patricia said despite the passage of half a century her father remains in her thoughts.

“Our dad was just the best, a good husband and a great father,” she said.

“He worked hard to provide for six children and gave us wonderful holidays. We had a magical childhood.

“I am now 70 but rarely does a day pass when I don’t think of him. I loved him so much.”

Ms McVeigh said the death of her father tore her family apart.

“Patrick McVeigh was gunned down by soldiers like on a turkey shoot,” she said.

“His death literally tore our family apart. Two of my brothers had to leave Harland and Wolff for work in Germany after the [British] army press office justified the shooting with the false claim that my father was a ‘gunman.’

“Our mother left Belfast for good to get away from the Troubles.”

In 2013 the BBC broadcast an admission by a former MRF member who said the unit had been involved in killing unarmed people.

Ms McVeigh said that over the past 15 years she has been “shoved from legacy pillar to legacy post” by the now defunct Historical Enquiries Team and then the PSNI’s Legacy Investigation Branch.

She added that an application for a new inquest “won’t be heard until 2023 if we’re lucky”.

She said the only option open is now are potential civil proceedings, which the British government are seeking to close down.

“To leave legacy victims with no avenue for legal redress at all is unconscionable,” she said.

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