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Family of Real IRA murder victim David Caldwell shocked at revelations

The Territorial Army base on Derry's Limavady Road where David Caldwell was fatally injured in a 2002 bomb attack. Picture: Margaret McLaughlin.
Seamus McKinney

THE daughter of Real IRA murder victim David Caldwell says the family is still trying to cope with revelations that their father’s life could have been saved.

In a new book 'Charlie One,' former British soldier Sean Hartnett revealed details of a security operation in the days before Mr Caldwell’s murder by the Real IRA in 2002.

His daughter, Gillian McFaul (26) said the family was shocked to learn details of the operation and to find out that the security forces know the identity of a chief suspect in his murder.

A former UDR member who left the regiment in 1985, Mr Caldwell (51) was fatally injured when he lifted a bomb hidden in a lunchbox while he was carrying out construction work at an unmanned Territorial Army base.

Hartnett revealed that a huge surveillance operation was being undertaken against key Real IRA suspects in the Derry and Strabane in the days before Mr Caldwell’s murder. Aware that the key suspect’s car was being used to transport a bomb, security forces did not know the intended target.

The suspect’s white Vauxhall Cavalier car was loaded with electronic surveillance equipment and was tailed for days. Two days before the murder, the car met with another vehicle.

Hartnett (not his real name) claims that when the two cars parted, the officer in charge opted to maintain surveillance of the Vauxhall instead of following the other car. However, it appeared that the killers “wrong-footed” the intelligence operatives and Mr Caldwell was killed.

The former soldier said: “Until now, no-one had any knowledge of North Det’s involvement in the incident. David Caldwell’s daughter, Gillian McFaul, has been looking for answers ever since that day. I hope this provides some.”

However, Ms McFaul said the family was angry that resources were not in place to tail both cars.

She told the Irish News: “But for the decision to stick with one car, my father could have still be alive. He was a good, hard-working man providing for his family.”

Ms McFaul said the family was only made aware of the new information last Thursday when contacted by the publishers.

“We’re annoyed and shocked that none of this ever came out before. It didn’t come out at the inquest and we knew nothing of this. They told us nothing; they just kept saying they were keeping the case open.”

The Derry woman said she had mixed feelings on reading the book.

“I feel angry and hurt at them (security forces). My father’s murder could have been prevented. It also opens up old wounds.”

Ms McFaul said the book also raised the fact that a key suspect in her father’s murder was known to security forces.

“Nothing will bring my father back but they should bring him in for questioning. You would like to see something done about it.

“My father could have still be walking around. I know they tried their best but a good man’s life was lost. He missed all the big things in my life, my formal my 18th and my 21st. He will miss all that is to come and it could have been avoided,” she said.

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