AP front Jan 2017-200pixels

29 January 2013

Resize: A A A Print

1972 killing of Joe McCann by British Army ‘unjustified’

A poster showing Joe McCann silhouetted against a burning building

'The HET considers that Joe’s actions did not amount to the level of specific threat which could have justified the soldiers opening fire'


THE GUNNING DOWN of unarmed 'Official IRA' Volunteer Joe McCann in Belfast in 1972 by British paratroopers was unjustified, an investigation by the Historical Enquiries Team has found.

OIRAJoeMcCannMcCann (pictured right) was shot dead on Joy Street in the nationalist Markets district of Belfast by members of the British Army’s Parachute Regiment.

McCann was unarmed and running away from the soldiers when they opened fire, hitting him a number of times in the back.

On the same day, the Paras also gunned down 20-year-old student teacher Patrick Magee in the Lower Falls area of Belfast as he walked down the steps of St Comgall’s School.

The Historical Enquiries Team report, which has been welcomed by Joe’s wife and children, stated:

“The HET considers that Joe’s actions did not amount to the level of specific threat which could have justified the soldiers opening fire in accordance with the Army Rules of Engagement or their standard operating procedures.”

A photograph taken of Joe McCann holding an M1 carbine silhouetted against the flames of a burning bakery during a previous battle in the Markets area of Belfast became an iconic image of the early years of the conflict.

Speaking to UTV following the publication of the report, Joe’s wife Anne said:

“It’s very hard to relive. It’s still very painful. The thing about a sudden death is that it never goes away. But we always knew that what happened to Joe wasn’t right.”


Uncomfortable Conversations 

uncomfortable Conversations book2

An initiative for dialogue 

for reconciliation 

— — — — — — —

Contributions from key figures in the churches, academia and wider civic society as well as senior republican figures

Premium Online Service For Only €10 Per Year

For less than €1 a month, you get An Phoblacht’s Premium Online Service. Sign up today!


  • Full access to all An Phoblacht articles
  • Interactive online PDF Booklet of each edition
  • Access to our historic Archives
  • Discounts for the Online Sinn Féin Shop

Only €10 Per
Year Get It Here

Special 1916 Centenary Edition




• Introduction by Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams 

• 1916 Ceannairí  | Biographies of the leading men and women who took part in the Rising

• Seven Days, Seven Men, Seven Hills | By Éamonn Mac Thomáis, republican activist, writer and historian

• Women in struggle | by Máire Comerford, a lifelong republican who witnessed central events in 1916-23

• Chronology of events 

• Map and description of the main battles and major events

• The Rising outside Dublin

• Stop press! Censorship and the media reaction to Easter 1916

• Roger Casement | 1916 rebel and a national hero on the Faroe Islands

• Internationalists in the Easter Rising | Scandinavian rebels in the GPO and ANZAC troops in Trinity College

Special rate available for orders of 10 and over

Follow us on Facebook

An Phoblacht on Twitter

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1

Powered by Phoenix Media Group