Plastic bullet victim’s family in new appeal for witnesses

May 1981... Harry Duffy's children follow his coffin as it makes its way to the City Cemetery following Requiem Mass at St Mary's Church, Creggan. INSET: Harry Duffy.
May 1981... Harry Duffy's children follow his coffin as it makes its way to the City Cemetery following Requiem Mass at St Mary's Church, Creggan. INSET: Harry Duffy.

The family of a Derry father of seven killed by a plastic bullet fired by the British Army almost 40 years ago have issued a new appeal for witnesses.

Harry ‘Dundalk’ Duffy, from Benevenagh Gardens in Creggan, was struck on the head by a baton round fired during disturbances in the Little James’ Street/Sackville Street district in the early hours of May 22, 1981.

His death came just hours after Derry’s Patsy O’Hara had died in prison after 61 days on hunger strike.

Harry’s family now want people who may have witnessed the 1981 incident to come forward.

His daughter, Linda, told the ‘Journal’: “We want to hear from anyone who knows anything that might shine some light on the circumstances surrounding our father’s death. We have so many questions and so few answers. For example, we’d like to know if anyone was with him when he was hit. Also, did anyone try to help him?”

Linda Duffy, who was still at primary school when her father, aged just 44, was killed, says her family was left devastated by his death but remains hopeful that any new information can bring them “some sense of closure”.

“We were left orphans by my father’s death - our mum had passed away a few years earlier - and life for none of the children, aged between seven and seventeen, was ever the same again,” she added.

“I want my father to be able to rest in peace. I want us to be able to live in peace. That’s why we need answers and, ultimately, the truth.”

Derry-based human rights group, the Pat Finucane Centre (PFC), is supporting the family with the appeal.

Sara Duddy, case worker, said: “It is quite clear that the 1982 inquest was inadequate and deeply flawed. It failed to pinpoint where the soldier who shot and killed Harry was standing and it also failed to established the exact location given for where Harry was when he was struck. The inquest also heard no evidence from civilians present that night. The Duffy family hope that witnesses may be able to come forward and provide this information.”

Anyone wishing to contact the Pat Finucane Centre can do so on Tel: (028) 71 268846 or via email at info@patfinucanecentre.org