News Letter
25 February 2012

A VICTIM of the Claudy bombings says she has “some hope” that the IRA will come clean about the attack in the months coming up to the 40th anniversary of the atrocity.

Mary Hamilton who was injured in the triple bomb attack, said the Provos’ admission of responsibility for the killing of nine-year-old Gordon Gallagher in 1973 could pave the way for further admissions.

In a statement, republicans said they were “profoundly sorry” and “truly remorseful” for the death of the child, who had been playing in his garden at his Creggan home, when he tripped on the device.

They also accepted that the British army was not to blame for the death.

Speaking to the News Letter last night, Mrs Hamilton expressed her surprise at the move, but said many more victims were still desperate for answers.

“Maybe now these IRA men are finally starting to be troubled by their consciences, and maybe there is some hope that they will finally admit to Claudy before the 40th anniversary this year [July 31],” she said.

“My first thoughts were when I heard that the IRA has made this admission, was ‘what about Claudy?’

“I fully sympathise with the Gallagher family and what they have gone through over the last 40 years and I am sure that this will help them in some way.

“It doesn’t matter what religion or side of the community you are from, when you lose a loved one in a terrorist attack, it is very difficult to get on with things.”

Mrs Hamilton, a Derry city councillor whose brother-in-law was murdered by the IRA, said the Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness could still help in their search for truth.

She said: “The person who knows the answers is Martin McGuinness. He was second-in-command of the IRA in Londonderry at the time, so he has to know who was behind it.

“I believe that those who have shot their way into power at Stormont will have to accept what they did in the past, there are so many, many victims like us who need answers to bring some kind of closure.”

Billy Gallagher said he accepted “the IRA’s responsibility” for the murder of Gordon “even though it came through a third party and they didn’t speak to me directly”.

“This has opened the door for further investigation – I want to know who did it and why,” he told the BBC.

“I am glad they take full responsibility and accept that they were to blame and no one else was (the army).

“This will help to make sure that everyone else knows the IRA were to blame for Gordon’s death, even though I always knew that.”

At the time, the IRA admitted to the family that a device had been left in the garden, but also claimed the detonator was added by soldiers.

The statement from republicans released through the Pat Finucane Centre read: “On the night before Gordon was killed, IRA personnel were in the process of planning an elaborate plan of attack on a British army foot patrol whose incursions into the area had been monitored over a period of time.

“The operation was planned to happen in the hours of darkness to avoid civilian casualties. During the process of planting the devices, one was accidentally triggered. This resulted in the IRA having to withdraw because of the presence of the British army foot patrol and the IRA assumed that the operation was at this point compromised and, therefore, should be aborted.

“Because of the potential danger to the community, the IRA made the decision to notify the RUC/British army through an anonymous phone call – this clearly indicated the location at the rear gardens behind Melmore/Leenan Gardens. Following the phone call, the immediate district was then saturated by British troops.

“The IRA, believing that the British army had discovered the device during the course of their search, withdrew from the area believing the British army would have cleared the area and rendered the device safe.”