Eamon McDevitt family call for apology after 50 years of 'British injustice'

The family of Eamon McDevitt, who was shot dead by the British Army in Strabane, in 1971 have described the last half century as '50 years of injustice'.

Thursday, 19th August 2021, 10:50 am
Eamon McDevitt was shot dead by the British Army on August 18, 1971.

At a vigil at 6pm at the spot in Fountain Street where he was killed aged just 28 on August 18, 1971, his siblings demanded an apology from the British Government.

"I have spent 50 years fighting for justice and an apology for my brother Eamon.

"We want an apology for what happened to Eamon. That a British soldier shot and killed an unarmed man here on this street. That they devastated my family, the people of Strabane and the deaf community across Ireland.

"But we won’t accept an empty apology. The British government must acknowledge not only the actions of their soldiers on that day 50 years ago, but they must also apologise [for] failing to investigate Eamon’s death, for failing to hold anyone accountable and for making our family, like so many other families, suffer for decades waiting on justice. An apology must acknowledge this hurt to be meaningful," they said.

His siblings referred to how Eamon contracted meningitis as a child, lost his ability to hear and to speak and was educated at St. Joseph’s School for Deaf Boys in Cabra in Dublin.

"When he was shot and killed by the army on August 18, 1971, our lives were devastated. Eamon was the star of our home and doted on by our parents. Following his death, the deaf community in Ireland took to the streets of Dublin in silent protest.

"They delivered a letter to the British Embassy outraged at what happened to their friend.

"When we heard about the protests, my family were overwhelmed. We could see that the community loved Eamon, and that they were angry, just as we were."

A separate vigil, organised by the deaf community in Dublin, will also be held this evening to remember Eamon.

"Tonight, in Dublin, the deaf community - including some of those who organised the 1971 protest - will once again come together to remember Eamon.

"To you I send my thanks. Your solidarity makes us more determined to keep fighting for Eamon.

"The McDevitt family also want to thank all you come together tonight to honour Eamon’s memory. We are overwhelmed by your support. Thank you."

His family condemned the British Government's proposals to introduce a Statute of Limitations for Troubles-related killings.

"We know the government are pushing for an amnesty for their soldiers who killed innocent people like Eamon on our streets. This shows nothing but contempt for families like ours, and cannot be allowed to happen," they said.

"We want an apology for what happened to Eamon. But we cannot accept an apology in place of justice."