Northern Ireland

New book to focus on children killed during Troubles

Derry journalist, Freya McClements hopes "Children of the Troubles" will right a wrong.
Derry journalist, Freya McClements hopes "Children of the Troubles" will right a wrong.

THE publication next year of a new book focusing solely on children killed during the Troubles will coincide with the 50th anniversary of the death of Patrick Rooney, the first child to die.

Children of the Troubles is being written by RTE broadcaster and writer, Joe Duffy and Derry journalist, Freya McClements.

The book follows Duffy’s highly acclaimed publication and documentary Children of the Rising which focused on the 40 children killed during the 1916 Rising.

Patrick Rooney (9) was killed when the RUC opened fire with a Browning machine gun on Belfast's Divis flats from their armoured car. The nine-year-old was in bed when he was hit.

While the RUC claimed it had come under attack from snipers, the Scarman Report in August 1969 found the use of the machine gun "wholly unjustifiable".

In writing Children of the Troubles, Mr Duffy hoped to commemorate for the first time lives which, he said, had been written out of history.

"We wish to make contact with every family who lost a child as a result of the Troubles, to give them the opportunity to take part in the book and to share information, photographs and memories of Northern Ireland’s lost children,” he said.

He said initial research showed the number aged 16 and under killed had been under-recorded and underestimated.

The authors have already been working with victims' groups from across the political divide. Co-author, Ms McClements said it was vital that every family who lost a child be included. She appealed to any family which has not yet been contacted to get in touch with the project (on 07724005667).

Numerous families have endorsed the project, including the family of Kathleen Feeney (14) killed by the Provisional IRA in a bungled ambush in 1973 and the family of Paul Maxwell (15), killed when the IRA blew up Lord Louis Mountbatten’s boat in Co Sligo in 1979. The family of Annette McGavigan (14), shot dead by the British army in 1971 has also endorsed the book.

Kathleen Feeney’s brother, Harry said it would “memorialise” his sister.

“We truly appreciate her also being publicly remembered as the fun-loving girl she once was,” he said.

Donna Macaulay and Lisa McKean, sisters of Paul Maxwell, said their brother was much loved.

“It is so important that he and all other children who died in the Troubles are remembered not as statistics but as individuals whose lives were cut tragically short,” the sisters said.

Martin McGavigan said his family was delighted to be involved. He encouraged others to “make their voices heard.”

:: Children of the Troubles will be published by Hachette Books Ireland in autumn 2019.