Family remember tragic death of three-year-old

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The family of the first child to be killed by a British Army armoured vehicle have been recalling the tragedy, fifty years after it took place.

Jim Dorrian was just three years old when he was knocked down yards from his Short Strand home in east Belfast. His older brother Robert, who was five at the time, witnessed it.

Jimmy McLarnon recalled how his nephew had been at a shop on Altcar Street, where the family lived, minutes before he got knocked down by the Land Rover. “The soldier was coming along the street and cut the corner and mounted the pavement,” he said.

Mr McLarnon said one of his last memories of his nephew was him playing outside the evening before he died.

“I remember the day before it happened, Jim and his brother Robert playing out on the street, they were bored as their TV had broke.

“They were waiting on the TV man coming round to fix it. That night before, it was about 6pm and I saw wee Jim out dancing in the puddles in the street.

“When he came in, I remember he had red and grey clothes on he had got at Christmas and I said ‘Look at the state of him’.”

Mr McLarnon said Jim, son of the late Betty and Robert Dorrian, had been “up to the corner shop on Altcar Street” prior to the collision.

“Robert was on the other side of the street,” he said. He “wasn’t well for a long time afterwards”.

Mr McLarnon said he believes the killing wasn’t deliberate.

“People have said he wouldn’t have died if the British Army weren’t here,” he said. “Jim was the first child killed by a British Army vehicle, but it was an accident. We never wanted Jim’s death politicised, we didn’t want that.”

He said his sister never got over it. “She reared her boys so well, but she never got over him, he has never been forgotten.”

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