Child victims of Troubles’ stories for Westminster

The personal stories of families who lost children during the NI Troubles will be heard by MPs at Westminster next week.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 24th June 2022, 10:00 am
Maria McGavigan.
Maria McGavigan.

Six families - five of them from the NW - who experienced the killing of a child will share their stories and experiences at a special event at Portcullis House in London on Tuesday.

The stories being shared are those of Damien Harkin (8), who was killed by a British Army lorry in Derry’s Bogside in July 1971; Annette McGavigan (14), who was fatally wounded when the British Army fired into a crowd of bystanders at a riot in the Bogside in September 1971; Julie Livingstone (14), who died in May 1981 from injuries sustained after she was hit by a plastic bullet fired by the British Army; Kathryn Eakin (8), who died in the Claudy bombings, carried out by the IRA, in July 1972; Kathleen Feeney (14), who was shot and killed in November 1973 when a young IRA sniper fired at a British Army checkpoint on Derry’s Lecky Road and hit Kathleen; and Henry Cunningham (16), from Carndonagh, who was a passenger in a van fired on by UVF gunmen in August 1973.

The narratives were originally performed in 2018 for The Playhouse Theatre and Peacebuilding Academy - an initiative using theatre as a tool to explore community relations issues in a safe and accessible environment.

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Marjorie Leslie.

A shortened adaptation of the testimonies, called ‘The Crack in Everything’, will now be remounted for the non-theatre setting of Portcullis House, by invitation of Colum Eastwood, MP for Foyle. A panel discussion will follow.

Playhouse CEO Kevin Murphy said: “The sharing of these testimonies is, at its core, about promoting healing and reconciliation in a truly liberating and transformative way. And bringing them to Westminster is part of a bigger ambition - to build the scope of a community of people who can, and will, effect real change. Our aim has always been to deliver something completely unique, communicating real, sadly often tragic, human stories that will radically change the way we think as a society. To bring these to the seat of power that is Westminster is an incredible opportunity to increase greatly the possibilities of healing.”

Playwright, Director and Community Arts Activist Jo Egan added: “This event takes place almost twenty-five years since the Good Friday Agreement, at a time when major atrocities linked to the testimonies stretch back fifty years. It is a significant moment to highlight ambitions and hopes for moving forward, whilst also looking back with informed hindsight at what we might have done better, offering continued learning in the journey to peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland and beyond.”

Those presenting the testimonies include Marjorie Leslie who was caught up in the Claudy bombings of 1972. Aged 24 at the time, Marjorie was a close neighbour and babysitter to Kathryn Eakin.

Sarah Feeney Morrison.

Also telling her family’s story is Sarah Feeney Morrison whose mother, Mary, is the sister of Kathleen Feeney.

She has said: “I feel so privileged I can do this for my mother and my family and I really hope through this truth recovery process we can help more people.”

Also taking part is Maria McGavigan, daughter of Martin McGavigan, whose sister, Annette, was killed in 1971.

More info is available at www.derryplayhouse.co.uk.