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Peter Pan Lyric Theatre
By Michael Jackson

A West Belfast man who witnessed the 1971 shooting of his 17-year-old schoolmate has said video footage featured in a recent BBC documentary proves he was “murdered for throwing a stone”.
Francis McGuinness, known to his friends as Frank, was shot dead by the British Army’s Parachute Regiment during rioting on Finaghy Road North at the outbreak of internment on August 9 that year.
The killing was featured in the Case of Ireland v. the United Kingdom, which was heard by the European Court of Human Rights. The British government told the court that Frank was shot after five petrol bombs had been thrown at troops. However, evidence emphasized that he was not armed or carrying anything that could be mistaken for a weapon at the time.
Frank’s murder was briefly featured in the recently aired BBC programme ‘School’s on the Front Line’, which showed testimony from his friend and eyewitness Brian Holmes.
While Mr Holmes said the programme offered too short a window to explain the events in full, it showed a short clip of footage that proves Frank was murdered.
“The difference between Frank McGuinness’ shooting and the rest of the shootings around that particular time is that we know who shot him,” said Mr Holmes.
“It’s one of the very few shootings where you can actually pinpoint it.
“When I got the footage I froze it, and you can actually see what I saw that day. You have a Para with a .303 (Enfield Rifle) shooting, but you can see another firing with an SLR rifle, and then you have another one shooting with what might have been a rubber bullet gun, or a rifle – you can’t see because of the smoke, but I think it was a rifle.
“You can see Frank McGuinness and you can see the three of them shooting. It doesn’t show you him falling, but it was during the first shots that he was hit.”
Despite the existence of the footage, Frank’s murder has never been properly investigated and Mr Holmes said his death has largely been forgotten.
“As far as I’m concerned, up until the Andersonstown News actually published the story, nobody else ever covered it. Frank McGuinness was one of the first shootings in Andersonstown and it was a forgotten death.
“The way Frank was shot, right under the arm, you can tell it was targeted. If they got the bullet you would know who shot him.”
He continued: “The footage that has been shown is only the cuttings, the full footage will show that Frank McGuinness was murdered. It was all for throwing a stone – yes, we were rioting, but at that particular time it was more just a bit of craic than anything else.”
He added: “He was murdered for throwing a stone.”

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