Northern Ireland news

Ballymurphy Inquest: Soldiers lifted body of woman 'like a sack of potatoes'

Joan Connolly was killed in Ballymurphy in west Belfast in August 1971

THE Ballymurphy Inquest has heard that the body of woman shot by British soldiers was later lifted by troops "like a sack of spuds".

The witness, Agnes Keenan (82) was in her thirties in August 1971 when British soldiers shot dead 10 people over three days in the Ballymurphy area of west Belfast.

The court heard that at the time Ms Keenan lived in a house on the Springfield Road beside an area where four people were shot dead including Joan Connolly, Joseph Murphy, Noel Phillips and Daniel Teggart.

In the aftermath of the shooting Ms Keenan said she could see into the back of a military vehicle at arms and legs and the head of a man.

She said she saw two soldiers lift Joan Connolly's body to the vehicle.

In 1999 statement read out in court she said “they threw her on”.

"That will stay with me until I die, you know,” she said.

“You always say that the dead deserve respect. That will stay with me until the day I die."

She said that earlier in the day she had seen Mrs Connolly with a group of people outside her house.

The witness said that Mrs Connolly was "agitated" and was carrying a short stick, something she felt no soldier could have mistaken for a weapon.

She explained how the crowd scattered when soldiers emerged from the Henry Taggart base and stood in formation with their weapons raised.

Later a British army witness MI374 also told the court he later saw Ms Connolly’s body carried into a military base after shots had been fired.

He said the woman was dead and covered in blood.

A barrister for the family of Ms Connolly asked about the way she was carried in.

"She was brought in as one would carry a sack of coal or a sack of potatoes?" he asked.

"Like a piggy back," the former soldier replied.

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