Sunday 20 October 2019

Family don't want soldier prosecuted over Bloody Sunday death

Victim: But Gerard McKinney's family don't want charges
Victim: But Gerard McKinney's family don't want charges

Leona O'Neill

The son and daughter of Bloody Sunday victim Gerard McKinney have said the soldier who killed their father during a civil rights march in Derry in 1972 will have to "answer to God" and they are not pushing for prosecutions.

Mr McKinney (35), a father of eight, was shot in the chest at Abbey Park in the Bogside.

Witnesses said that when he saw a soldier, Mr McKinney stopped and held up his arms, shouting "Don't shoot! Don't shoot!", before being gunned down. The bullet went through his body and struck another victim, Gerard Donaghy behind him.

However, as four British army veterans may be charged later this month over the deaths of 14 people on Bloody Sunday, Mr McKinney's family said they have forgiven the soldier who shot their father.

His daughter, Regina McLaughlin, asked: "What's the point in putting them in jail? Their children and grandchildren are going to lose them, just as I lost my daddy."

Her brother Kevin, who now lives in Donegal and was just 11 when his father was killed, said the soldier who pulled the trigger "was not to blame, rather it was the British establishment who sent him there".

"We are a very religious family. And as such I believe in forgiveness." he said.

"In my work as a trade union official I represent workers. And the only way you make someone pay is by taking the monetary value of them. That is the reality that we live in."

Mr McKinney's 80-year-old mother Ita was awarded £625,000 (€726,800) in compensation last year in connection with her husband's death.

He said this was "too little, too late" as she had had to raise eight children on a widow's pension.

He said the British government, politicians and all those involved in the day's killings should be put on trial and that the "soldier played only a small part in a bigger machine".

Meanwhile, the UK government is preparing to announce new legislation that will prevent veterans from being prosecuted over historic allegations with the introduction of a 10-year limit on new cases.

Irish Independent

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