Blinded peace charity founder recalls tragic shooting

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Fifty years ago this week a ten-year-old schoolboy, Richard Moore, was blinded by a British soldier’s rubber bullet in Derry.

Wednesday, 4 May, marks the 50th anniversary of the day Mr Moore was struck on the head by a British soldier’s rubber bullet, leaving him completely blind.

According to an interview published by the Derry Daily, the last thing he remembers was running along St Joseph’s secondary school football pitch in Derry on May 4 1972.

“In my mind’s eye, I can see myself running up the field. The last thing I ever saw was the back of the houses on Creggan Hill; that sight is still vivid and clear to me. One of the things I do miss is daylight. The last time I saw anything, it was a lovely spring day in May. I miss daylight,” he said.

This week, just days short of his 60th birthday, Mr Moore said that he still struggles to accept that it is five decades since the incident which changed his life completely.

The ten-year-old’s life hung in the balance for some days before it became clear that he would live but would be without his sight.

Despite the crippling injury, Mr Moore has gone on to establish the ‘Children in Crossfire’ charity to help other young people in war zones.

He has also publicly forgiven the British soldier who blinded him.

The soldier involved, Charles Innes, said he was attempting to disperse a group of children from near a British army sangar when he fired the bullet which blinded Richard Moore. He has said he regrets the incident.

Mr Moore’s ability to forgive Innes has led to a friendship between them and also led to a deep friendship with Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama who frequently describes the Derry man as “my hero”.

“I was never angry so it was not a case of “arriving” at a point of forgiveness. I heard the Dalai Lama speaking about forgiveness and I realised that was my experience.”

On the 50th anniversary, Mr Moore said he has been thinking about the past.

“I’m thinking of what it was like to the ten-year-old me to be blind for the rest of my life and for all that my mammy and daddy had to go through. I am remembering the past but it’s not to beat someone up in the future,” he said.

For his parents, Mr Moore’s ordeal was traumatic. He recalls his mother placing miraculous medals against his eyelids and pouring holy water over them as she pleaded with God to return her son’s sight.

“She didn’t realise that God actually answered her prayers; she did not think of the complicated way that God answered her prayers by giving me the life I’ve had and a different kind of sight.

“It was all the people who supported me and the compassion shown to me that helped me live the life I’ve had. I set up Children in Crossfire to give something back but I always think that if a child in Tanzania or Ethiopia has a good life because of Children in Crossfire, it’s because of the people who helped me, my parents, the teachers and all the others. I’m proud of Children in Crossfire and all it has achieved.”

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