Plastic bullet victims remembered

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The family and friends of Tobias Molloy have held a series of events to mark the 50th anniversary of his death at the hands of a British soldier on July 16, 1972.

The 18-year-old died when he was shot by a rubber bullet fired by a British soldier at a British Army checkpoint in Strabane, County Tyrone. He had attended a dance at a hotel in Lifford, County Donegal, and was returning across the border to Strabane after leaving his girlfriend home.

A torchlit procession was held from Lifford to Strabane, retracing the steps Tobias took on the tragic night on which he was shot dead. A Memorial Stone was also unveiled at the Memorial Garden located at the entrance to Inisfree Gardens in Strabane, ahead of an anniversary march.

The Pat Finucane Centre is continuing to call for a fresh inquest into the shooting of the young Strabane man. It points to a declassified document discovered in the National Archives in London which contains internal British correspondence discussing a civil action taken by Mary Murphy, Tobias’ mum, against the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in the late 1970s.

The file states that: “It is not clear from the written statements which soldier fired the shot which hit Tobias Molloy. However, it does seem that the round was aimed directly at the youth’s chest... and represents a weakness in our case.”

After a very limited inquest in the South, the PFC is seeking a new inquest in the North so that British military witnesses and technical experts “can come and account for their actions”.

But despite presenting a comprehensive application to the Attorney General in the north, the family’s application for a new inquest has so far been rejected.

The group warned the British government’s proposed legacy legislation would effectively close down the Molloy family’s chance of obtaining justice.

Meanwhile, a new mural featuring victims of plastic bullets has been unveiled in west Belfast as part of a campaign to ban their use in the north.

Members of the United Campaign Against Plastic Bullets (UCAPB) group unveiled the mural, which features the names and photos of the north’s 17 victims of the lethal projectiles.

The mural, which states ‘Ban plastic bullets now’ is the latest step by UCAPB to have the lethal items outlawed.

Mark Kelly, whose 12-year-old sister Carol Ann was killed by a plastic bullet shot by a soldier in Twinbrook in 1981 and features on the mural, said the event was well-attended and an encouraging step in the campaign.

“The aim is to see the use of these weapons banned. We are also hoping for justice for the victims, but that appears increasingly unlikely due to the British government’s Troubles amnesty legislation plans,” he said.

“But we will keep pushing to ensure plastic bullets will not be used on our streets. Today’s march to the mural was absolutely a non-political event, and our campaign aim is that no community here has to suffer the grief caused by their use.

It’s great to see the support from so many young people also, and we hope that the message is heard so we don’t have to have another generation campaigning for a ban that should have occurred a long time ago.”

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