Father whose son was shot dead by SAS in 1978 died without receiving apology

Farm hand John Boyle (16) who was shot by the SAS in Dunloy in 1978.

A MAN who campaigned tirelessly for a British government apology after his teenage son was shot dead by the SAS in a rural cemetery, has died at the age of 94.

Dunloy farmer Con Boyle was buried yesterday following Requiem Mass at St Joseph's Church in the village.

The father-of-nine had mounted a long campaign for justice after his 16-year-old son John was shot and killed by undercover soldiers in July 1978.

Next month will mark the 40th anniversary of the killing which caused widespread shock across Northern Ireland.

Read more: The SAS ambush killing of a teenager that caused outrage

The day before the shooting the teenager had found an arms dump under a headstone while visiting an old family grave.

He told his father who reported the find to the RUC. But instead of removing the items four members of the SAS were positioned to watch the area.

It is thought the teenager returned the following day out of curiosity to see if the bag was still there when he was shot.

SAS soldiers who had been observing him claimed the teenager lifted a rifle and pointed it at them.

A secret RUC report, which was leaked to press, said John was shot in the back. Forensic experts also found no trace of his fingerprints on the gun.

In an unprecedented move, two soldiers were put on trial for murder - the only case of its kind between 1969 and 1992. However both were acquitted.

Both soldiers returned to duty and it was reported that they continued to serve in the army until 1990.

Speaking last night his son Vincent said his father had died without ever receiving an apology.

"My father didn't want vengeance, he wasn't that type of person, but he would have liked an apology, we all would have," he said.

"I thought when David Cameron apologised on behalf of the British government for Bloody Sunday that was a good thing. It would have been good if our family had been given a similar apology.

"My mother died ten years ago. I remember saying to her that she must have struggled. We were all out at work and she would have been at home on her own apart from at mealtimes.

"There was no counselling then, nothing like that.. My parents coped with their grief in private and I'm sure that wasn't easy.

"I was 18 when John died. If he had lived another three weeks he would have turned 17. There was only just over a year between us and we shared a bedroom.

"It was hard at the time, although that must have been much worse for my parents."

The family, who are well respected in the Dunloy area, had no paramilitary connections.

Mr Boyle added: "My father was a strong man. He coped with everything that happened but I know until his dying day he would have liked acknowledgement of wrongdoing, a simple apology, maybe it'll happen one day, we can still hope."

Mr Boyle, who is predeceased by his wife Eithne and two sons Cyril and John, is survived by his children Hugh, Peter, Fr Con Og, Grace, Brian, Vincent and Harry.

Con and Eithne Boyle

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