Northern Ireland

Billy McGreanery family - Army in official apology for shooting

Billy McGreanery and Marjorie Roddy
Image caption Relatives of Mr McGreanery, Billy McGreanery and Marjorie Roddy, have said the apology "rights a terrible wrong".

The Chief of the General Staff of the British Army has sent an official apology to the family of a man shot dead by a soldier in Londonderry .

Billy McGreanery, 41, was killed by a member of the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards in 1971.

In June, the Historical Enquiries Team found he "was not carrying a firearm and he posed no threat to the soldiers".

In his letter, Sir Peter Wall said an official apology was right and proper.

He said that the soldier who shot him "was mistaken in the belief that he had a weapon and this error, tragically, resulted in the death of an innocent man".

His family acknowledged the apology but said it was too late for those closest to Mr McGreanery.

In a statement, Billy Mc Greanery and Marjorie Roddy, the surviving nephew and niece of the late Billy McGreanery said they took issue with the MoD claim that the soldier "was mistaken in his belief that he…(Billy)… had a weapon".

But they acknowledged that the general tenor of the letter was one of apology.

Image caption Billy McGreanery was shot dead in 1971

"The MoD have acknowledged that Billy... was a totally innocent man who posed no threat. We feel we have finally set the truth free and somewhat righted a terrible wrong," they said.

At the time of the shooting, the RUC chief superintendent in the city, Frank Lagan, said the soldier responsible should have been charged with murder.

Mr MrGreanery was killed at the junction of Eastway, Lonemoor Road and Westland Street on 15 September 1971.

Duty

Soldier 'A' was never prosecuted on the advice of the attorney general, who said "whether he acted wrongly or not, the soldier was at all times acting in the course of his duty".

Mr McGreanery was one of a group of men walking past an army observation post when he was shot.

An excerpt of the HET report released by the McGreanery family said: "An examination of the original case file reveals that there were clear doubts over the veracity of soldier 'A's account yet nothing was done to challenge it or investigate further."

It commented on the "very real" threat against soldiers at the time, 49 were killed in 1971 and that when questioned about the incident soldier 'A' has said he was petrified.

"Thirty-eight years later, the soldier still maintains his original account of events during that evening," the HET report said.

"He does accept however, that he made a mistake, albeit an honest one."

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