Republican sources in Derry have issued a statement to the ‘Derry Journal’ in which they say they are “truly remorseful” and “profoundly sorry” for the death of nine-year-old Gordon Gallagher in 1973.
The statement comes just days after the boy’s parents, Billy and Pat, called for the full truth about what happened.
The schoolboy was playing ‘Cowboys and Indians’ in the garden of his Creggan home when he triggered an IRA device which had been left there.
In 1973, the IRA admitted to the family that a device had been left in the garden but claimed the detonator was added by British soldiers.
However, in the statement released to the ‘Journal’ last night - via local human rights group, the Pat Finucane Centre - republican sources no longer claim the British Army tampered with the device that exploded and “fully” acknowledge their “responsibility” for Gordon’s death.
The statement reads: “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.”