Irish Republican News · December 16, 2011
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Family’s relief as inquest finally held

British soldiers involved in shooting a 15-year-old boy nearly 40 years ago should face prosecution, a lawyer for the teenager’s family has said, following the long-sought inquest into his death last week.

The fresh inquest into the death of Daniel Hegarty found he posed no risk when he was shot twice in Derry in July 1972. A jury also dismissed British claims that warnings were shouted at Daniel.

His cousin Christopher, aged 16 at the time, who was also shot by the same machine gun that killed Daniel but survived, attended the inquest. He heard his name and that of his cousin finally cleared after forty years of British lies that the pair had posed a “threat”.

The Hegarty family had campaigned for years with the help of the Pat Finucane Centre to have the truth told about how Daniel was killed during ‘operation Motorman’ in 1972, when the British Army invaded IRA-controlled areas of Derry

The jury further found that no sufficient warnings were given prior to the shooting and no attempt was made to render assistance to Daniel or Christopher.


An earlier review found the original police investigation into the killing was described as “hopelessly inadequate”.

The inquest into the teenager’s death heard that at the between 1970 and 1973, an agreement existed that the Royal Military Police (RMP) would take the lead in investigating any incidents involving British troops.

But the inquest heard that the neither the RMP nor the then RUC civil police even bothered to interview the commander in charge of the soldier who shot Daniel Hegarty. The matter appeared to have been officially ignored.

Relatives of Daniel, who was shot dead near his home, said they were delighted that the record had finally been set straight.

A tearful Margaret Brady, speaking after the verdict was delivered at Derry court house on Friday night, said she was “very happy” that her brother was cleared of any wrong doing, adding that his killing was “unjustified and unjustifiable”.

She added: “We’re very happy with the outcome but we didn’t come here for revenge, we came for truth and justice.”

During her evidence, Mrs Brady described her brother as a big-hearted joker who was always “carrying on”.


She said he’d never be forgotten.

“We’ll always remember our brother, we’ll remember his birthday and we’ll remember him at Christmas.”

She told the inquest that her mother continued to set a place for him at the table and call him for dinner for months after his death.

It is hoped the exoneration of Daniel Hegarty may open the floodgates for new justice campaigns over British actions during the early years of the conflict.

Following the verdict, Mrs Brady said other familes in Derry now deserve the justice afforded to Daniel.

“Not only did our family suffer at the hands of the state, young Seamus Bradley died that morning, there’s also Kathleen Thompson, John Thomas Friel and Annette McGavigan’s family - they need the truth too, they need justice,” she said.

Des Doherty, who represented the Hegarty family, said prosecutions were the next step.

“The full rigour of the law has to be applied and it is now of course a matter for the coroner,” he said. The question of prosecution was one for “the authorities”, he added.

The North’s Senior Coroner John Leckey has said he is still considering whether to refer the case to prosecutors.

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© 2011 Irish Republican News