Northern Ireland news

Family will not give up fight for justice for Daniel

Daniel Hegarty just wanted to see the tanks brought in to clear the Derry No-Go areas.
Seamus McKinney

Just six months after Bloody Sunday, fifteen-year-old Daniel Hegarty was shot dead close to his Creggan home. He had left his home early on the morning of July 31, 1972 because he innocently wanted to see the British army tanks which had been sent into clear Derry's no-go areas.

He was shot, virtually at point blank range, with a heavy-duty machine gun fired without warning. The British army claimed he had been carrying a nail bomb, a claim it subsequently withdrew many years later.

In 2011, following a fresh inquest into Daniel's death, the jury found that neither Daniel – nor his cousins, Christopher (who was shot and wounded but survived) and Thomas – posed any threat to anyone.

The claim that his son was a “terrorist” always hurt Daniel's father, Alec. A good man, he bore no grudges, even to the point of comforting a soldier as he lay dying outside his home after being shot, just six months after Daniel's killing. Encouraged by the example of the Bloody Sunday families, in 1997 Mr Hegarty started a campaign to have his son's name cleared.

He died two years later, not having won justice for his son but at least having started the process. His daughter, Margaret Brady recalled that days before her father died, he told her “I want my son's name cleared”.

Since then, like the Bloody Sunday families, she has fought tenaciously for justice for her brother. In 2019, the PPS ruled that the soldier believed to be responsible – Soldier B – would be charged with Daniel's murder and the wounding of his cousin, Christopher.

In Derry yesterday, the DPP's conclusion that the case could not now go ahead was met with anger and, equally sadness that Daniel's family have been slapped in the face once again.

Margaret Brady was too upset to speak to journalists yesterday. She left the talking to her solicitor, Des Doherty. From his words, let there be no doubt; Margaret will do what she has always done. She will dust herself down and return to her fight for justice for Daniel. This case is far from over.

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