Northern Ireland

Bernard Watt widow relieved by coroner's verdict

Bernard Watt's widow Teresa, and her son Sean, at the inquest into his shooting in Belfast
Image caption Bernard Watt's widow, Teresa, pictured with her son Sean, at the inquest

The widow of a man shot dead by the Army during a Belfast riot has expressed relief his name his finally been cleared 46 years after his death.

Last week a coroner ruled soldiers were not justified in their use of lethal force against Bernard Watt.

Teresa Watt said her husband was a good man, who was just "looking after his home, like everyone else".

The 28-year-old died after being shot by the Army during a riot in Ardoyne, Belfast, in February 1971.

The coroner ruled he was not a member of a paramilitary organisation and was not holding a bomb before he was shot, as soldiers had told the court.

"I've been hearing [he was a bomber] for 46 years, and they can't say that any more," Mrs Watt told Radio Ulster's Evening Extra programme.

Image copyright Family
Image caption Bernard Watt, 28, was shot by the Army during a riot in Belfast's Ardoyne area in 1971

"I always knew, because I knew what sort of fella he was - he was never part of any organisation.

"He went out to riot, he got out like the rest of them. But he was looking after his home, like everyone else"

She described him as a man's man with plenty of friends who liked dog racing.

Mrs Watt said it had been incredibly hard to give evidence at the inquest into her husband's death.

"You learn to live with it," she said. "Everyone has their problems."

'Run on'

The first inquest into his death was held in July 1971 and resulted in an open verdict.

The latest inquest was ordered in 2012 by Attorney General John Larkin QC - one of a number of controversial Troubles killings by the security forces which are being re-examined.

Counsel for the coroner told the court there had been difficulties in tracing and identifying soldiers involved in the case.

In February, the Ministry of Defence defended a Parachute Regiment Facebook appeal asking former soldiers for information about Mr Watt's killing.

But Mrs Watt told the BBC she was "not out for vengeance".

"Let them run on," she added. "They'll face their own maker yet."

Ten months after her husband was killed, Mrs Watt's brother Joe was also killed by the Army and an inquest into his death is due to take place later this year.

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