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Not the last tragedy to befall family

SHOT DEAD: John Teggart and Alice Harper with a photo of their father Danny SHOT DEAD: John Teggart and Alice Harper with a photo of their father Danny
By Brónach Ní Thuama

Ahead of September’s inquest we continue our series on each of the victims of the
Ballymurphy Massacre

Danny Teggart was born on October 10 1926, the first of 13 children born to Daniel and Alice Teggart.
The family lived in 29 Abercorn Street North, Lower Falls. Danny left school at the age of 14 and started work. He met his wife Bella at the Clonard pictures, she was seventeen, he was eighteen. They courted for the next two years and married in St John’s Church at 7.30am Mass on January 17 1947, and went on to have thirteen children.
Danny and his family got their first home at 29 Westrock Drive, a three bedroom bungalow. In the latter part of 1970, Protestants moved out of the nearby New Barnsley area and Danny and his family were given a new home at 86 New Barnsley Crescent where he thought they would be safer.
On Monday August 9 1971 Danny Teggart was on his way back from his brother’s home when was shot by the Parachute Regiment 14 times. He was 44-years-old.
The Andersonstown News spoke with two of Danny’s children John Teggart and Alice Harper to find out how their father’s murder impacted on the family.
“Our daddy always provided for us all, if he was in between jobs he worked as a rag man and a window cleaner,” remembered Alice.
Describing those three days in August 1971 when 11 local people died, Alice said: “I remember internment came in at 3.40am. Myself and Father Pat Coyle ran up to the front of the road, all the binlids were going and all the men were being scattered everywhere.
“I came back down to my house in Turf Lodge with my son, my daddy came over and we were talking. I said, ‘Daddy will you tell mummy that I’m pregnant?’ He was all delighted, he was really happy for me.
“I remember he asked me to cut his hair. He had lovely curly hair, and don’t ask me why, but for some reason I gathered all the hair from the floor and put it inside a wee trinket box I had.”
Alice continued: “Later on that afternoon my father came back to my house and asked me if my uncle Gerard, his wife Sadie and their children could come over and stay in my house because they lived next door to the Henry Taggart (a community hall that had been taken over by the Paras) and it wasn’t safe for them to stay there.
“I remember it was a beautiful, bright summer’s night. Father Erskine came round the doors and asked everyone to go out into the street to say the Rosary.
“We were saying the Rosary when the shots rang out. Father Erskine asked us to pray for anyone that may have been injured, it was between 8.30-8.50pm on the Monday night.
“We didn’t know anything had happened until 6am the next morning. Mummy came over and said daddy had gone out to get uncle Gerard, he had said ‘put the kettle on I’ll be back in a few minutes’ but he never came back.”
Filled with panic, Alice left her home to try and find her father.
“We waited a while, but time started getting on, so I went to the army post. I was asking everyone on the way there if they’d seen my daddy but no one knew anything.
“I asked the Paras if my father had been arrested, did they have him or had they heard anything about him. They answered ‘We hadn’t f***ing time for arresting, just killing’.
“As I turned to walk away I began to cry and they started singing ‘where’s your Papa gone?’ Three times that day I went to that army post and they did the same thing each time.
“It was on my way there the third time that someone stopped me and told me that they’d heard a man cry out. He shouted ‘who are you?’ and the man said ‘Danny Teggart’.
“I said to the Paras ‘you do have my daddy’. They said ‘There’s a f***ing unidentified body in Lagan Bank morgue try there.
“I went to the morgue, daddy was unrecognisable apart from his wee tight curls. There was bad bruising on his body. They went to lower the sheet, but I said ‘no, give my daddy his dignity’.”
The shock of identifying her father’s body at the age of 23 led Alice to develop alopecia and lose her hair.
Her brother John said he was in the room when his mother was telling his oldest brother Jim that their daddy had been shot.
“I bolted out the back. I went to the Henry Taggart and threw stones all day. Alice saw me on the news throwing stones, I stayed there all day. It’s all I could do was throw stones at them. I was only eleven-years-old.”
Alice continued: “On the day he was murdered he was wearing his suit and his shirt. He was always well turned out, he was spotless, but when I identified his body he was naked, what did they do with his clothes?
“Daddy carried everything in his inside pocket. He had the Family Allowance book, the rent book and all that, all these items would have identified him. So when he was murdered he had all these things on him, but they disappeared, so for six to eight weeks mummy didn’t get a single penny.”
After Mr Teggart’s murder the Teggart family were separated. The girls were sent to a refugee camp in Kildare and the boys were sent to Ballycaslte. The young Teggart children missed their father’s funeral.
“I couldn’t get my daddy’s body home because the troubles were so bad, we got him back at tea time on Thursday and his funeral was on Friday,” said Alice.
“I’ll never forget that day, the whole week had been beautiful but that day the heavens opened. We were soaked to the skin, we got so mucky at the grave yard. I’ll never forget it.”
Unfortunately this wasn’t the only tragedy to befall the Teggart family.
Alice said: “After daddy was murdered in August, I gave birth to another son in March, he only lived for two days, the following year our brother Bernard was murdered by the IRA – he was only 15.”
John said: “Our brother was murdered for nothing. They said he was an informer, they shot him in the head and threw his body in the Floral Hall in the zoo.
“We campaigned for years to have his name cleared. The IRA finally admitted that our brother was innocent and apologised – too little, too late.”
Taking up the story Alice continued: “Mummy was devastated at the loss of her husband and best friend but to lose a child she carried for nine months completely broke her.
“After Bernard’s murder she threatened to take her own life, we had to make sure there were no tablets in the house. We all watched out for her, we made sure she was never on her own.
“They were very hard times, there was a stigma around Bernard’s murder because it was people from our own community. But mummy went to Lourdes and thank God she did because she came back a different person.”
Discussing the Ballymurphy Massacre campaign John said: “There were 27 murders across the north that week in August 1971. The Ballymurphy Massacre families have spent years knocking doors, taking statements, meeting with all sorts of politicians and doing everything we can to try and clear our loved ones’ names.
“The Paras who murdered 11 innocent people in Ballymurphy during those three days were all decorated and given medals of honour by their queen, they were treated as heroes.
“The real heroes here are those people from Ballymurphy, each and every one of them were on an errand of mercy when they were shot dead.”

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