Northern Ireland

Patrick Kielty says early release of father's killers was `price worth paying' for peace

Presenter and comedian Patrick Kielty. Picture by Lorian Reed-Drake
Presenter and comedian Patrick Kielty. Picture by Lorian Reed-Drake

PATRICK Kielty has told how he felt the early release from prison of his father's killers was "a price worth paying" if it helped achieve peace.

The Co Down-born TV presenter and comedian was speaking to former President Mary McAleese on her new RTÉ show All Walks of Life, which was broadcast last night.

Mr Kielty's father, Jack, was shot dead by the UVF in January 1988.

The 45-year-old building contractor, who was also a well-known GAA official, was shot several times by gunmen who burst into his offices in Dundrum.

Patrick Kielty, who is married to fellow TV presenter Cat Deeley, was just 16 at the time.

The 49-year-old described it as "an assassination".

"I've never really used that word before but when someone just comes in and someone else is helpless, that's what it was," he told Mrs McAleese.

The father-of-two said he was in school when the shooting happened and was called to the headmaster's office.

He recalled how "everything else goes into slow motion but (thinking) 'he can't really be dead'".

"It's also that thing of you normally go home and you see somebody dead but of course you don't because there's an autopsy and all of those things."

Asked if he was ever an attempt by paramilitaries to recruit him to avenge his father's death, he said: "There was an approach to a relation in the graveyard on the morning he was buried but never directly (at me).

"When you've come through something like that the last thing you want is for anybody else to go through it, let alone you visit it upon anybody else. That was never even a thought."

Three men were convicted for the killing, receiving life sentences, but were freed under the Good Friday Agreement.

"When people say how do you feel about your father being killed, the one thing is I hope nobody has to go through it ever again," he said.

"So if you've got something that gives this place a chance to turn the page for the first time in history and be part of a generation that actually doesn't continue that cycle of violence, and if that means that the people who killed your dad are going to get out of jail, that's a price worth paying."