24 June 2005

Belfast Telegraph

1973: the IRA kills Kathleen Feeney (14)
2005: they apologise

Provos urged to 'come clean' on all their murders

By Brendan McDaid and Jonathan McCambridge
24 June 2005

The IRA was today facing demands to come clean over all its murders following a historic apology for shooting dead a 14-year-old schoolgirl in Derry 32 years ago.

In a statement the IRA said it was apologising "unreservedly" for killing Kathleen Feeney in 1973.

Kathleen was killed during an IRA sniper attack on a British Army mobile patrol in the Lecky Road area of the Bogside on November 14, 1973.

Policing Board vice-chairman Denis Bradley - who knew the victim - said today he hoped the apology would bring closure for her family.

Kathleen was shot in the head with an Armalite rifle while she was playing with other children in the street in the Brandywell area of the city.

The IRA had previously blamed the Army for Kathleen's killing.

But in a statement issued today, after the family approached the IRA seeking a full explanation of what happened to the young girl and an unconditional apology, a spokesman said: "The leadership of Oglaigh na hEireann has been asked by the Feeney family to examine the circumstances surrounding the death of their sister and to publicly acknowledge that she was killed by the IRA.

"The IRA leadership agreed to do so.

"We found, as the Feeney family have always believed, that Kathleen was hit by one of a number of shots fired by an IRA active service unit that had fired upon a British Army foot patrol in the Lecky Road area."

The IRA spokesman said that the organisation accepted it had "only added to the hurt and pain of the Feeney family" by failing to own up to the killing for over three decades.

Mr Bradley said: "This is an important statement and an important development.

"As someone who was around in the city at that time and who knew the child, her parents and her family I have to say this is not before time.

"I hope it brings some closure for the Feeney family."

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland's political leaders today called upon the IRA to come clean over all murders it has committed and denied after the unprecedented apology.

DUP MP Gregory Campbell said the onus was now on the IRA to give a full account of the murders it has carried out and then denied during the Troubles.

Mr Campbell said: "We have to look at the ramifications of this.

"How many other murders have the IRA carried out which they originally denied, and after the murders occurred, then carried out retaliatory killings for murders they had committed?

"This shows just how the IRA have created a deepening cycle of violence and more violence."

Mark Durkan, SDLP leader, said no family should ever have lost a daughter and a sister to such violence.

"No family should have had to wait so long for the truth. No family and no community should have been left for so long with a false understanding of such a great loss," he said.

Mr Durkan called for perpetrators of similar crimes to come forward.

He said: "The SDLP believe that everyone who has lost loved ones through violence is entitled to truth.

"All organisations whether state forces or paramilitaries who have taken life owe it to the victims and to the wider public to provide the truth."

Kathleen was killed just yards from her Quarry Street home in the Brandywell.

Her father Harry saw his daughter falling down from the doorway of their home.

Following her death, controversy arose over who fired the shots.

At the time the IRA had maintained it was the Army that carried out the shooting.

The organisation also later claimed that it had killed a soldier in retaliation.

The British Army has always maintained that it was not involved in the young girl's death.

The Army said at the time that one of its patrols was fired upon but did not return fire.

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