News Letter
23 February 2012

UNIONIST politicians have backed calls for Martin McGuinness to come clean over what he knew about the bomb that killed a schoolboy in Derry almost 40 years ago.

Nine-year-old Gordon Gallagher died when the device exploded in his garden in Creggan. His parents believe Mr McGuinness knows who was involved in the 1973 tragedy.

The deputy first minister was in jail at the time, but Billy and Pat Gallagher said he could help them get to the truth about what happened.

The IRA admitted to the family that a device had been left in the garden, but claimed the detonator was added by soldiers. The schoolboy was playing in the garden with his younger brother when he tripped on the bomb.

Speaking to BBC Radio Foyle, Mr Gallagher said he was not at home at the time of the explosion but was nearby and heard the bomb go off.

He said IRA members came to his home to admit leaving the bomb in his garden.

Mr Gallagher said: “Two boys came and lied about it at the start. They told me their unit put the bomb there, but no detonator, that the Army must have come back and put a detonator on – it’s ridiculous.

“Shock or no shock, I never believed that for a second.

“One of the men who came to tell me the lies, about two or three weeks after it, his wife arrived at my door and she apologised.

“She said, ‘We’re sorry about your son but these things happen in war’. I said, ‘Sure my son wasn’t at war, he was only nine years of age’. I chased them from my door.”

A Sinn Fein spokesman said Mr McGuinness was in jail at the time and had no details about the killing.

A recent report from the Historical Enquiries Team (HET) found that the IRA was solely responsible for what happened.

The HET said it had failed to find any new leads in the case. East Derry MP Gregory Campbell said Mr McGuinness’s detention in prison at the time “did not erase his knowledge of what his organisation had done, nor who did it”.

The DUP man said: “Republicans cannot continue to demand truth of others while living in denial themselves.”

UUP victims’ spokesman Mike Nesbitt MLA praised the Gallaghers for “publicly challenging Martin McGuinness”.

“Here is an opportunity for a leading member of Sinn Féin to do the decent thing, and set the record straight,” he said. “Republicans are making the loudest calls for the truth to be told. Let them walk the walk and tell the truth about their own actions.”