Northern Ireland news

Daughter of Catholic man shot dead by MRF 50 years ago says killing tore family apart

Patricia McVeigh with a picture of her father Patrick McVeigh who was shot by the MRF in May 1972
Connla Young

The daughter of a Catholic man killed by an undercover British army unit this day 50 years ago has said his killing tore her family apart.

Patrick McVeigh (44) was shot dead by members of the British army's Military Reaction Force (MRF) in May 1972.

Disbanded in 1973, the MRF was a shadowy British army group linked to the murder of Catholic civilians.

Mr McVeigh (44) was killed at the junction of Riverdale Park South and Finaghy Road North in Belfast after he stopped to chat to unarmed members of the Catholic Ex Servicemen's Association who were manning a civilian checkpoint in the area.

Several other men were injured during the incident.

His daughter Patricia said despite the passage of half a century her father remains firmly in her thoughts.

"Our dad was just the best, a good husband and a great father," she said.

"He worked hard to provide for six children and gave us wonderful holidays. We had a magical childhood.

"I am now 70 but rarely does a day pass when I don't think of him. I loved him so much."

Ms McVeigh said the death of her father tore her family apart.

"Patrick McVeigh was gunned down by soldiers like on a turkey shoot," she said.

"His death literally tore our family apart. Two of my brothers had to leave Harland and Wolff for work in Germany after the army press office justified the shooting with the false claim that my father was a 'gunman.'

"Our mother left Belfast for good to get away from the Troubles."

In 2013 the BBC broadcast claims made by a former member who said the unit had been involved in killing unarmed people.

Former Director of Public Prosecutions Barra McGrory later asked ex Chief Constable Matt Baggott to investigate the claims.

In 2020 the PSNI said a file had been forwarded to the Public Prosecution Service as part of the police investigation into the alleged activities of the Military Reaction Force.

Ms McVeigh said that over the past 15 years she has been "shoved from legacy pillar to legacy post" by the now defunct Historical Enquiries Team and then the PSNIs Legacy Investigation Branch.

She added that an application for a new Inquest "won't be heard until 2023 if we're lucky".

She said the only option open is now are potential civil proceedings, which the British government are seeking to close.

"To leave legacy victims with no avenue for legal redress at all is unconscionable," she said.

The PSNI was contacted.

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