The Springhill Massacre, a shooting incident which claims five lives in the Springhill estate in west Belfast, takes place on July 9, 1972 . Three civilians, including a Catholic priest, and two members of Fianna Éireann are shot dead by British Army snipers firing from a timber yard.
The Northern Ireland Troubles have been raging for three years and hundreds have already been killed by the two warring factions in Northern Ireland, unionists, including Ulster loyalists and the British Army, and Irish republicans wanting unification with the Republic of Ireland. Violence has been taking place all day and the five dead are part of ten people killed on that day.
According to a Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) statement on July 10, British Army snipers take up sniping positions in Corry’s timber yard and reinforced them with sandbags. Two cars pull into Springhill and the snipers fire two shots at them. One of the cars flees while the other drives a short distance and stops. The occupants get out and the snipers open fire again, seriously wounding one with a shot in the back of the head. A resident rushes to help the injured man but is immediately shot in the arm. This man’s brother and a friend run to the downed occupant but both are shot by the snipers. At some point during this time a 13-year-old girl is fatally shot by the snipers. The parish priest, waving a white cloth, and a passer-by rush to her but a sniper kills both with a single bullet that passes through both their heads. All of the victims are unarmed.
The British Army disputes the IRA’s version of events and claims its troops were fired on first by the IRA, ending a temporary IRA ceasefire. A British Army spokesman states, “There has been a heavy exchange of fire between the IRA and troops. Some of the dead and wounded were undoubtedly caught in the crossfire.” On July 10, the British Army claims that it has killed terrorists. An open verdict is recorded at the inquest into the events.
No British soldier has been held accountable for these murders.