40th anniversary of shooting

James 'Junior' McDaid. (2812MM08)
James 'Junior' McDaid. (2812MM08)

A commemoration event will be held in Derry tomorrow to mark the 40th anniversary of the death of IRA member James ‘Junior’ McDaid.

The 30 year-old Derry man was shot dead on December 29, 1972, by a member of the British army’s 25th Light Regiment Royal Artillery close to the Ballyarnett Road, near the border between Derry and Donegal.

Mr McGuinness, a friend of ‘Junior’ McDaid before his death, will be the main speaker at tomorrow’s commemoration.

Mr McDaid was a staff captain in the Provisional IRA at the time and had just been released from custody in the Republic just days before he was killed.

The circumstances of the shooting caused controversy in Derry at the time with the British army claiming they had opened fire on a group of armed men and the IRA and locals claiming that the men were not armed.

A British army spokesperson claimed at the time that troops saw Mr McDaid and two other men, who they claimed were armed, crossing the border from Donegal close to Ballyarnet House.

The troops claimed one of the men was carrying a light rifle of the Armalite or carbine type.

The spokesperson said the three men were challenged and split up. “Two disappeared round the corner of a wood, but one continued to run across open ground.

“He was challenged several times but did not respond. Suddenly he dropped to the ground and appeared to be taking up a firing position.

“A single shot was fired at him. The army patrol was a small one and had operated cautiously,” the spokesperson said.

Mr McDaid’s body was later recovered but no weapon was found.

The Derry Brigade of the Provisional IRA disputed the British army’s version of events and said the men had not been armed.

The IRA also claimed that local residents in the area could back up their claim.

The Derry brigade said Mr Collins had been shot in the back and was left laying in the middle of a field. The IRA also claimed that it was over an hour before his body was recovered.

The statement also asserted that the British troops had fired in the direction of the man’s body after he had been killed.

Mr McDaid was married tp Patsy, and the couple had two children, both of whom died young with cystic fibrosis.

He was a bricklayer by trade and was well regarded for his skill by other workers.

Examples of his work can still be seen in the city, including at the electricity sub-station near Craigavon Bridge at the Foyle Road and the St Mary’s Parochial House in Creggan.

A lifelong football fan, he had been instrumental in setting up a Glasgow Celtic supporters club in Derry, one of the first in the city.

He became involved in republican activities at the onset of the Troubles and was a member of both the IRA and Sinn Féin. He was first active in the Brandywell area of the city before moving to Shantallow where he was a member of the third batallion of the IRA’s Derry brigade.

His IRA activities brought him into conflict with the authorities and he was arrested on May 8, 1972, in Donegal on arms charges. He subsequently spent time in Mountjoy jail and the Curragh military camp where he was the adjutant of the republican prisoners.

He undertook a successful hunger strike along with other prisoners in a campaign for political status. He developed an ulcer as a result of the hunger strike and was hospitalised for a number of months.

He was released on December 8th and reported back to the following day. He continued to be active in the local area until the day he was shot dead at Ballyarnett.

To mark the anniversary, a commemoration will be held at the Shantallow republican monument, Racecourse Road, tomorrow at 3pm. Sinn Féin leader Martin McGuinness will be the main speaker at the event.