Dad accepts apology for child’s bomb death

Billy and Pat Gallagher, pictured at their home. Their son, Gordon was killed by an IRA bomb in 1973. (2402SL02) Photo: Stephen Latimer
Billy and Pat Gallagher, pictured at their home. Their son, Gordon was killed by an IRA bomb in 1973. (2402SL02) Photo: Stephen Latimer

The father of a nine year-old Creggan boy killed by an IRA bomb in 1973 has said he still wants to speak to his son’s killers to explain why it happened.

Young Gordon Gallagher was killed at his Leenan Gardens home 39 years ago. His anniversary was yesterday.

He had been playing Cowboys and Indians in the back garden of his home when he stepped on a landmine planted by the IRA.

This week Republicans issued a statement in which they claimed sole responsibility for Gordon’s tragic death. Initially the Provisionals had said they left the device and suggested the British Army had added a detonator.

The fresh statement released to the family and the Derry Journal on Thursday, came after Gordon’s parents issued an emotional plea for answers from the republican movement.

The Historical Enquiries Team has also been examining Gordon’s death.

Des Doherty, solicitor for the Gallagher family said: “Probably the most significant aspect of the statement is that the IRA are no longer blaming the army for what happened. It is also a courageous thing to do to make that concession albeit late in the day.

“I believe a new line of enquiry has been opened up with this statement and we should rigourously pursue it,” said Mr. Doherty.

The solicitor was responding to the statement released to the Journal through the Pat Finucane Centre (PFC) by Republican sources “who had direct knowledge of the events,” said Paul O’Connor of the PFC. Mr. Doherty said he and the family will not stop in their search for answers: “We’ll examine the original inquest paper from 1973. I believe the only legal mechanism open to the family is to request the Attorney General to open a new inquest.”

The solicitor continued: “The authorities also have questions to answer as well as the IRA, as they claim they notified the security forces about the bomb, so did the IRA report a bomb to the authorites? If so why was it not found?” Criticising the original police investigation Mr Doherty said: “The paperwork from the time is simply awful, it is deeply flawed as was the police investigation. So the family may have to complain to the Police Ombudsman also.”

Describing the events of this week as “tough” Gordon’s father Billy said that this was the toughest year for the family since Billy died. “I accept the apology from the IRA, I still want more information. I need to know who and why this was done. The last few days have been very tough, lots of people have been asking what happened and how, it has made it the toughest year for the family since it happened.”

Mr. Gallagher stated that he will “not stop asking questions until I find out who it was and why this was done.

“I’ll accept anyone into my home if they come to tell me what happened. I’m not looking for revenge and there’s no anger left in me now. I just want some rest and peace of mind.”