Series of events to mark 50th anniversary of rubber bullet victim Tobias Molloy

This weekend the family and friends of Tobias Molloy will hold a series of events to mark the 50th anniversary of his death at the hands of a British soldier on July 16, 1972.

The 18-year-old died from fatal injuries received when he was struck by a rubber bullet fired by a soldier of the 1st Royal Welsh Fusiliers at Lifford Road, Strabane, at the former ‘Camel’s Hump’ British Army checkpoint.

Tonight at midnight a torchlit procession will proceed from Daly’s Filling Station (An Siopa Beag) in Lifford to the former Camel’s Hump site retracing the steps Tobias took on the fateful night on which he was shot dead.

On Saturday the Pat Finucane Centre (PFC) will display its ‘In their Footsteps’ exhibition in Castle Street in Strabane from 1pm to 3pm.

Tobias Molloy

On display will be pairs of shoes belonging to individuals who were killed or seriously injured during the conflict.

At 6.30pm an anniversary Mass will then take place in the Church of the Immaculate Conception followed by the unveiling of a Memorial Stone to Tobias at the Memorial Garden located at the entrance to Inisfree Gardens in Strabane at 7.30pm.

And on Sunday, July 17, an anniversary march will proceed from Cluney Gardens, Clady to Donnyloop Cemetery. The guest speaker at this event will be the Donegal T.D. Pádraig Mac Lochlainn.

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The declassified file held in the National Archives.

The incident took place in the early hours of the morning (Sunday night/Monday morning). Earlier that evening Tobias had attended a dance at the Inter Counties Hotel in Lifford, and was returning to Strabane after leaving his girlfriend home.

The PFC is continuing to call for a fresh inquest into the shooting of the young Strabane man.

It points to a declassified document discovered in the National Archives in London which contains internal correspondence within government discussing a civil action taken by Mary Murphy, Tobias’ mum, against the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in the late 1970s.

The file states that: “It is not clear from the written statements which soldier fired the shot which hit Tobias Molloy. However, it does seem that the round was aimed directly at the youth’s chest rather than being bounced on the ground first.

“This practice was contrary to our own instructions for the use of baton rounds…. (which recommend that rounds be bounced off the ground) and represents a weakness in our case.”

Paddy Friel, shot in the head with a plastic bullet two decades after his uncle Thomas was killed, says there can be no hierarchy of victimsThis week PFC stated: “When Tobias was shot, he was taken to a hospital in Letterkenny where he was pronounced dead on arrival. This meant his death was recorded in the Republic and the subsequent inquest was heard in this jurisdiction- without the ability to call military witnesses or test the evidence fully. For the past number of years, we have been working with the Molloy family and their lawyers to seek a new inquest in the North, so that the military witnesses and MoD technical experts can come and account for their actions.”

The Derry-based human rights advocacy group said it has had great difficulty locating the original inquest file, however, it believes there are grounds for a fresh inquest.

“We have also held a witness appeal, and a number of eyewitnesses who were there that night, many of which offered care and assistance to Tobias, came forward and provided statements.

“From the evidence gathered to date, including from eyewitnesses and a new pathology expert report, it is arguable that Tobias died on impact when the rubber bullet was fired directly at, and struck Tobias’ chest.

“The original inquest file could have helped to confirm this. This is important as if Tobias died in the north, his inquest should, by law, be held in the north too.

“However, despite presenting a comprehensive application to the Attorney General in the north, the family’s application for a new inquest was rejected.”

The group warned the British government’s proposed legacy legislation would effectively close down the Molloy family’s chance of obtaining justice.