Republicans take responsibility for death of nine-year-old who died in Derry explosion in 1973
The IRA has finally admitted responsibility for the killing of a young boy in Derry in 1973, which it had tried to blame on the British military.
In a statement issued indirectly to the family of nine-year-old Gordon Gallagher on Friday, the IRA accepted that it, not the British army, was responsible for his death. The boy died when an explosive device went off near where he was playing.
The admission, issued through the campaign group the Pat Finucane Centre in Derry, said: "Republicans fully accept their responsibility for the death of Gordon and apologise to the parents and family of Gordon Gallagher for the pain and grief caused.
"Republicans remain truly remorseful and profoundly sorry for the circumstances that led to Gordon's death."
The boy's father, Billy Gallagher, said: "I accept the IRA's responsibility for the murder of Gordon, even though it came through a third party and they didn't speak to me directly.
"This has opened the door for further investigation ? I want to know who did it and why. I am glad they take full responsibility and accept that they were to blame and no one else was.
"This will help to make sure that everyone else knows the IRA were to blame for Gordon's death, even though I always knew that."
At the time of the fatal explosion, the Provisional IRA's Derry brigade admitted to the family that a device had been left in their garden. However, it claimed that the detonator was added by soldiers.
Gallagher said IRA members came to his home to admit leaving the bomb in his garden.
"Two boys came and lied about it at the start," he said. "They told me their unit put the bomb there, but no detonator, that the army must have come back and put a detonator ? it's ridiculous."
The IRA's statement of admission came about after the Gallagher family challenged the deputy first minister, Martin McGuinness, to urge republicans to come forward and tell the truth about how their son died.
"Because of the potential danger to the community, the IRA made the decision to notify the RUC/British army through an anonymous phone call ? this clearly indicated the location at the rear gardens behind Melmore/Leenan Gardens," the IRA statement said.
"Following the phone call, the immediate district was then saturated by British troops. The IRA, believing that the British army had discovered the device during the course of their search, withdrew from the area, believing the British army would have cleared the area and rendered the device safe.
"The IRA felt that if they had moved back to retrieve the device, given that the British army now heavily saturated the area, they would be captured or shot. The following morning, young Gordon went out to play in his garden and accidentally triggered the explosive device."