We don’t often quote from Kevin Myers these days, but this piece deserves linking not least for his telling of the story of the son of one of the victims of 1 Para at the entrance to Ballymurphy in August 1971.
40 years ago, the Parachute Regiment had become state-authorised killers in Northern Ireland. According to David McKittrick’s indispensable volume ‘Lost Lives’, the Paras killed 39 people between 1971 and 1976. Only seven of these were paramilitaries: but one of those, Joe McCann, the Official IRA leader, was gunned down, unarmed, on a May Saturday afternoon.
The death toll of 33 unarmed victims killed by the three battalions of the Parachute Regiment is more than that for hundreds of battalions of the rest of the British army and Royal Marines combined.
That’s the bloodied tip of the iceberg; what these figures don’t show were the Paras’ regimes of terror and brutality within the areas they governed.
Young men were routinely beaten by Para patrols. Hundreds of working-class houses were wrecked in random retaliatory raids.
They were a disgrace to the British army and a joy and a delight to the Provisional IRA, for which they were a major recruiting sergeant. And now the Northern Attorney General John Larkin QC has ordered a new inquest into 10 of these killings, on internment day, near New Barnsley housing estate on August 9, 1971.
One of the victims was Daniel Teggert. His son John, welcoming the decision, said that it would not end the campaign for a full independent investigation.
And the Sinn Fein leader, Gerry Adams, was of course invited onto RTE to add his voice to the denunciations of the Paras all those years ago. He wasn’t, of course, asked on RTE about the subsequent fate of the two sons of Daniel Teggert, who had been shot by the Paras.
After their father’s death, the twins Bernard and John Teggert became troubled teenagers and were sent to St Patrick’s Institute. They were aged 15. The IRA abducted them as suspected informers. Bernard pleaded with the IRA to leave his brother alone. So they just shot him, and – rather kindly – gave John the bus fare home.
Bernard’s body was dumped in Bellvue Zoo with the word “tout” on his chest. And John – with whom, by God, I sympathise – is the man who this week welcomed the announcement of the new inquest.
Meanwhile, history is remorselessly examined with a one-sided agenda, refuelling a pre-existing culture of victimhood with the burning kerosene of distant injustice. Yes, an inquiry into one dead Teggert, killed by 1 PARA, but not into the other, killed by the PIRA.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty