Northern Ireland news

Ballymurphy Inquest: Three hard-working, loving fathers remembered by families broken by their brutal murders

The three families of victims Eddie Doherty, Joseph Corr and Danny Teggart gave evidence to the inquest yesterday. Family members, from left, Kathleen McGarry, Eileen McKeown and Alice Harper. Picture by Hugh Russell

THREE hard-working, loving fathers were remembered yesterday by the families broken by their brutal murders over three days in the Ballymurphy area of west Belfast.

The inquest into the notorious 1971 massacre heard how Danny Teggart (46) had found out he was going to become a grandfather again just hours before he was shot dead on August 9.

His daughter Alice Harper told Mrs Justice Siobhan Keegan he had been "all delighted" after she told him she was expecting a baby, when he called round "to see if we were all right" amid the tumult unleashed by the introduction of internment that day.

After taking her infant son to give her "some rest", Mr Teggart asked her to give him a haircut.

"I cut his tiny black curls and brushed the hair up and put it into a wee horse and cart ornament.

"Little did I know that I would later identify him in the morgue by those same black curls. He left my house that day and that was the last time I seen my father alive."

Aged just 23, Mrs Harper told how, after going house-to-house the next morning asking neighbours if they had seen him, she went to the army post at Henry Taggart Memorial Hall.

"I asked `Did you arrest my father?'... and they just said no we hadn't time for arrests we only had time for killing."

Mr Teggart's family also suffered financially after his death.

The father-of-13 would break up sticks and sell them around the streets, also working as a `rag and bone' man and cleaning windows for "all the big stores" in the city centre to bring in extra money.

Father-of-four, Eddie Doherty "just lived for (wife) Marie and their kids", his sister Kathleen McCarry told the coroner.

"He was content with what he had and he was in his own wee orbit that he owned his house, and provided for his kids. He was just happy to be a husband and a daddy.

"On payday he would give Marie his unopened pay packet, she would then buy him his cigarettes for the week. Not too many men did that in those days."

She recalled seeing him the day after internment started "in an awful state about Father Mullan and Mrs Connolly and the others being shot".

Mr Doherty left his sister Theresa's house at 4.35pm.

The family heard on the 10pm news bulletin "a gunman who had been operating in Ardoyne the night before and his body had been dumped in Whiterock. He said he had been named as Eamon Doherty".

"My mummy went to pieces, we all went to pieces, it was like a nightmare you were never wakening from.

"There were times we couldn't find her and would have to go out looking for her, we would find her at the grave washing it down."

After a nervous breakdown and spending time in Purdysburn psychiatric hospital, his mother "died of a broken heart seven years after Eddie".

"For seven years we just watched her deteriorate. She went from this strong woman who washed the dead, delivered babies, did amazing things, to a woman who was lost."

Mrs McCarry described a family "torn apart with grief... not only did we lose Eddie we lost Marie too", his widow dying nine years later of a heart attack aged just 40, leaving their children orphans.

Father-of-seven Joe Corr "lived for his family, he even took on part-time jobs window cleaning and that to bring in a bit of extra money".

They were preparing to emigrate to Australia when he was killed.

He and his son Joe had been the top of their street "when the soldiers started shooting... everybody scattered running everywhere", his daughter Eileen McKeown told the coroner.

"My daddy didn't get a chance to run when he was shot. Joe returned home unaware of what had happened to daddy."

Her brother was devastated to discover the body he had stepped over to help someone else "was his daddy".

"He had this thing in his head that if he had let the other person go that he could've helped his daddy... It haunted him for the rest of his life."

After his death, the family received hate mail from Mr Corr's former workplace, Shorts, after news reports he had been a gunman.

"I want my daddy's name cleared," Mrs McCarry said.

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