• March 31, 2011


The United Kingdom Defence Minister, Liam Fox, has formally apologised for the death of a South Armagh schoolgirl over thirty years ago.

Twelve year old Majella O’Hare was shot in the back as she passed a British Army checkpoint manned by members of the parachute regiment as she was going to church on the 14th of August 1976.

There were initially suggestions that the incident occurred when the army patrol came under fire from the IRA. However it was later established that the weapon which killed Majella was fired by a paratrooper, Private Michael Williams.

The Killing of Majella O’Hare has been surrounded by controversy for years and although Private Williams stood trial for manslaughter he was acquitted. The British army and MOD have stubbornly refused to accept the enormity of the pain and suffering they caused the O’Hare family.

A recent inquiry by the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s Historical Enquiries Team (HET), which re-investigated the case, found there was no evidence to suggest there had ever been an IRA gunman. The HET’s director, Dave Cox, last summer called on the army to apologise for killing Majella.

Majella O’Hares death had ramifications outside of Ireland and directly led to the campaign to monitor military activity by the Celtic League. Initially in late 1976 the Celtic League Manx branch and the Manx Nationalist Party, Mec Vannin, formed the Anti-Militarist Alliance (AMA) a body which succesfully
campaigned for the closure of British military facilities on the Isle of Man (which at the time was used as a support and R&R base for troops operating in the north of Ireland).

The AMA ended its activities four years later when the Celtic League AGM adopted a policy to monitor all military activity in the Celtic countries.

Following the British government apology there was speculation that the O’Hare killing could be the subject of further court prceedings but this has been discounted. The O’Hare family are not reported to be pressing for a fresh case.

However, Majella’s brother Michael yesterday welcomed the apology saying: “It is not closure, but we have moved along the way. It has been a long time coming. It still does not avoid the fact that Majella is dead as a result of their actions.”

An article on the Celtic League Military Monitoring campaign can be found in (Summer 1998 issue) Carn 101 pages 20-23 which can be accessed (in pdf) at:


J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information
Celtic League


The Celtic League has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It works to promote cooperation between these countries and campaigns on a broad range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights
human rights abuse, monitors all military activity and focuses on socio-economic issues.

TEL (UK)01624 877918 MOBILE (UK)07624 491609

Internet site at:



About Author


0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
The Celtic League
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x