Northern Ireland news

Richard Moore marks anniversary of life-changing shooting

Fifty years ago this week Richard Moore was blinded by a British soldier's rubber bullet. But despite the hugely traumatic event he went on to set up a charity to help other children caught up in war zones and even counts the Dali Lama among his friends. He tells Seamus McKinney how compassion and forgiveness have shaped his life

Since meeting in 2006, Richard Moore and Charles Innes have become close friends, working together to promote Mr Moore's Children in Crossfire charity.
Seamus McKinney

CHILDREN In Crossfire founder Richard Moore said he still misses daylight.

It is the last thing he remembers was as he ran along St Joseph’s secondary school football pitch in Derry on May 4 1972.

Read More: Former soldier's regret over blinding comes 'in quiet moments'

“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.

Wednesday marks the 50th anniversary of the day that as a 10 year-old he was struck on the head by a British soldier’s rubber bullet, leaving him completely blind.

Just days short of his 60th birthday, Mr Moore said he still struggles to accept that it is 50 years since the incident which changed his life completely.

An army sangar close to Mr Moore’s Rosemount primary school was a daily riot target in 1972. May 4 was no different except that Captain Charles Innes fired a rubber bullet from the sangar at the young people, knocking Mr Moore to the ground.

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 live an amazing life and to very publicly forgive the soldier who blinded him.

He returned to school, progressed to university, is married to Rita and has two daughters. In a life most sighted people have never experienced, he has run two pubs and served as a director of Derry City football club.

An accomplished musician, he played lead guitar with nine-piece blues outfit “Midnight Hour”, formed Derry’s most enduring church folk group and set up the North’s largest and most successful community radio station, Drive 105.

But it is his decision to establish the Children in Crossfire charity to help other young people and his forgiveness of Charles Innes that he is best known for.

Brought together through a television documentary, he travelled to Scotland to meet the retired officer in 2006. Since then they have become firm friends.

 

His example has 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.

Now, I know it is not easy for some victims and I would never criticise a victim who can’t forgive. I think I was able to forgive because of the compassion of the people to me and around me.

“I also need to say that the fact that I forgave Charles does not mean he was right to fire a rubber bullet at a group of children and at me.”

As he faces into the 50th anniversary, Mr Moore said he has been thinking more about the futility of the Troubles.

“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 obviously 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 because of the people who helped me, my parents, the teaches and all the others. I’m proud of Children in Crossfire and all it has achieved.”

The Derry man said he will “more than likely” take a few minutes out at 3.20pm on Wednesday but has a busy day planned, talking to young people at St Malachy’s College in Belfast.

 

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