THE family of Norah McCabe, who died after being struck by a plastic bullet fired by an RUC man in July 1981, are to hold a vigil and unveil a new mural in her memory to mark her fortieth anniversary. 
The 33-year-old mother of three was hit in the back of the head by a plastic bullet which was fired from an RUC Land Rover, under the orders of Senior RUC commander Chief Supt James Crutchley, as she returned from the shops along Linden Street on the morning on 8 July 1981. She died in hospital the following day.

At the time, the RUC had claimed that there was rioting in the area following the death of hunger striker Joe McDonnell and that they had fired at someone who had thrown a petrol bomb at their patrol.
Unbeknown to them, the incident had been captured on camera by a Canadian film crew which would later be used to contradict the RUC's evidence at Norah’s inquest.
Speaking ahead of this week's commemoration, Norah’s husband Jim recalled the first time that he saw the footage of the plastic bullet being fired.

"The footage first emerged at a conference on plastic bullets organised by Father Raymond Murray.
“They invited victims and witnesses to the events or anyone who could give evidence about the misuse of plastic bullets to come forward. It was there that this footage was produced.
“It had been given to the People’s Democracy and they gave it to the priests who showed it at the conference. It was the first time I had seen it – I was never made aware of it.
“It totally shocked me because when I was first told of Norah’s shooting I had pictured all sorts of things in my mind. This clearly showed an aimed, intentional shot and it showed this Land Rover reversing out of the street and driving on up the Falls Road leaving Norah fatally wounded in Linden Street.
“Then the cameramen zoomed in on Norah laying on the ground. At that point I left the room in a state of shock and I had never seen that footage again until it was produced at the inquest. I was not interested in seeing it again.”
Jim added: “That had an impact on me such as that I believed then and there that the evidence was conclusive. Norah was murdered by an intentional shot fired by an RUC man from inside a Land Rover.
“At the time I recall appealing for witnesses to come forward. One person came forward and that was a lady called Jeanie Mooney who recently passed away and to whom I am eternally thankful for coming forward and giving evidence at the inquest for she was very brave in doing so. 
“I owe her quite a lot of thanks for assisting me at the time but I also know that many people couldn’t come forward and I acknowledge that there are people out there who never knew Norah but who support us in our campaign and fight for justice.
“At the inquest the RUC gave evidence and said that they didn’t fire any plastic bullets in that street. They said they fired in a street further away at a person throwing petrol bombs. The video also showed clearly that there were no petrol bombs being thrown, no stones, no bricks, no bottles and no rioting."

No charges have ever been brought against anyone involved in the shooting.
“The person who was in charge that day, Chief Supt James Crutchley was promoted to Assistant Chief Constable. He was transferred to the traffic division, away from West Belfast.
“The person who fired the plastic bullet was promoted to Sergeant. I have his name which was given to me accidently in papers and had not been redacted.  I am prevented from publicising his name without breaking the law.”

For decades after Norah’s killing, Jim campaigned tirelessly to end the use of plastic bullets.
“I got involved in campaigning against the use of plastic bullets. This was not something that went in any way to ease the sense of loss or injustice. To campaign to have these awful things banned, to have them stopped being used in other countries, meant that I left my kids sometimes for weeks on end.
“I went to places like Italy, Germany and America to educate people on the use of plastic bullets. How they were used and even their dimensions shocked people when they saw an actual plastic bullet.”
At the time of Norah’s death, her eldest child was six, her middle child was three and her youngest, just three months old.
Recounting the impact that his wife’s death had on their children, Jim added: “I, as a parent, could see the effect on my children but could never imagine the real effect on them because I was fortunate in the fact that I had parents all my life, right up through adulthood.
“They grew up with one parent and I remember on one occasion calling into my mothers and Áine was sitting on the chair in tears. I asked my mother what was wrong with Áine and she said that she wants her real mummy.
“That came out of the blue. I  was seeing and believing a happy child, happy in her environment with her grandmother and aunts around her but what was going on in that two-year-old child’s head, I can never imagine.
“My children bore their suffering and heartbreak in silence. They never came to me to ask me to explain. I asked them to campaign with me and since 1985 when the United Campaign Against Plastic Bullets was formed, they never fail to accompany me to the vigil at the Andytown Barracks site.
“They are the heroes. They kept me going and whatever legal action could be taken they had my back. When they became adults, they became active and I appreciate that. That is why I want them to take the lead in this memorial. It is their emotions I want to see and their feelings I want to hear expressed.
“The focus of this memorial should be on Norah as a mother, a wife, a sister, a human being. She is not just a victim or a statistic.
“This is important as many people know the name Norah McCabe – few people know Norah McCabe except her family and close friends.”
The vigil and mural unveiling will take place at 7pm on Friday 9 July at the spot where Norah was shot on Linden Street.