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1971: Two women shot at Belfast checkpoint
Westminster and Stormont MP Gerry Fitt has called for an official inquiry into the shooting of two women in the Catholic Falls area of Belfast.

The women were shot dead as their car swerved down the road, smashing into a wall and failed to stop at a checkpoint.

Two other people in the car survived and have been charged under the Explosive Substances Act. They are waiting to appear in court.

Soldiers say they only opened fire after shots were fired from the car itself.

"As the car shot out of the end of the street two of my men saw somebody smash the back window. Two shots were fired," explained Major Christopher Dunphie of the Royal Green Jackets.

In return the Army shot nine times killing Mary Ellen Meehan, 30, and her sister Dorothy Maguire, 19.

When officers reached the car they found the two women dead on the back seat. They were reported to be wearing men's clothing.

William Davidson said he was the driver of the car and denies accusations that shots were fired saying the women had asked to go to the road with foghorns after reports that there was trouble in the Lower Falls area.

Florence O'Riordan also said she was the driver of the car and was treated for cuts and shock at the Royal Victoria Hospital.

The IRA leader, Joe Cahill, said the women were known members of the Woman's Action Committee who are involved in the practice of warning people of the arrival of British troops.

Security across the area has been stepped up after Mr Cahill said that "retaliatory action" would be taken against the British troops by IRA Provisionals.

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The car involved in the shooting
Soldiers claim they only opened fire after shots were fired from the car itself

In Context
Shootings and demonstrations continued in the Falls Road area on that day.

British troops near the border were involved in fighting with civilians who were attempting to use diggers to fill in craters that the army had dug.

Army vehicles faced bursts of gun fire as they left the Royal Victoria Hospital but did not return fire.

The families of the two dead women strongly contested the Army version of events, that shots had been fired from the car.

Twelve years later, Mrs Meehan's husband received 1,200 compensation in settlement of a claim against the Army.

The charges against William Davidson and Florence O'Riordan were later reduced to driving offences.

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