Northern Ireland

Victims' campaigner McCourt to be proposed for Freedom of Derry

Jon McCourt is to be proposed as a Freeman of his native Derry. Picture by Liam McBurney/PA Wire 
Jon McCourt is to be proposed as a Freeman of his native Derry. Picture by Liam McBurney/PA Wire 

Prominent victims’ campaigner Jon McCourt is to be proposed for the freedom of his native Derry just days after revealing he turned down an MBE in the King’s birthday honours.

Mr McCourt, who is one of the most high-profile campaigners for the victims of historical institutional abuse, said he declined the honour because of Bloody Sunday and the British empire’s role in the 'Child Migrant Act'.

He said he witnessed the killing and wounding of friends and others on Bloody Sunday and was turning down the award as King Charles was the honorary colonel-in-chief of the Parachute regiment, which was involved in the massacre.

He also pointed out that one of the soldiers involved in the killings was also awarded an MBE.

Read more:Victims campaigner who witnessed shootings on Bloody Sunday declines MBE

Mr McCourt said: “As an Irish man and particularly as a Derry man, I could not with any integrity and conscience accept and MBE".

Following Mr McCourt’s statement, People Before Profit (PBP) councillor, Shaun Harkin, revealed he intended proposing the activist for the freedom of Derry City and Strabane district council.

Mr Harkin said the proposal would come before the local authority at next week’s monthly meeting.

“Jon has been a leader in campaigning for the victims of abuse by the state, abuse by religious institutions and he has been a great spokesman for that campaign," he said.

Read more: Campaigner for abuse victims dedicates MBE title to late brother

Mr Harkin told a council sub-committee that the city and district should be “absolutely proud” of Mr McCourt.

His comments were welcomed by Sinn Féin, the SDLP and Ulster Unionist members of the committee.