After 40 years, IRA admits child's murder
Belfast-born David McKittrick has been reporting on Northern Ireland since 1971, He has written for the East Antrim Times, the Irish Times and was The Independent's Irish correspondent for many years. He is the author of several books including Making Sense of the Troubles (2000) and Lost Lives (1999).
Saturday 25 February 2012
Almost 40 years after a boy of nine was killed by an explosion in Londonderry, the IRA has finally admitted responsibility for his death.
The admission came after pleas from Billy and Pat Gallagher, whose son Gordon was fatally injured when he tripped over a landmine left in the family's back garden.
At the time of the incident, in 1973, the IRA admitted putting the bomb there but claimed British soldiers had attached a detonator to it, rendering the device live. Now the organisation says it fully accepts responsibility, adding it is "truly remorseful and profoundly sorry".
The incident came to light again after a report by the Historical Enquiries Team – a "cold cases" unit set up by the police.
Before the new IRA statement, Mr Gallagher had called on Martin McGuinness, Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister, who was an IRA commander in Londonderry in the 1970s, to provide information about the incident.
Sinn Fein said in response that Mr McGuinness had been in jail at the time of the bombing and had no information about it.
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