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Last Updated: Friday, 24 June, 2005, 15:18 GMT 16:18 UK
IRA apologises over child killing
An IRA wall mural
The IRA admitted 1973 killing
The IRA has apologised for killing a 14-year-old schoolgirl in Londonderry more than 30 years ago.

The IRA blamed the Army for shooting Kathleen Feeney near her Brandywell home in 1973, and claimed later it killed a soldier in retaliation.

The Army had said a patrol came under fire in Quarry Street, but insisted none of the soldiers opened fire.

In a statement in the Derry Journal newspaper, the IRA said that one of its members shot the teenager.

The IRA said it apologised unreservedly for what happened and admitted that its failure to accept responsibility for the killing added to the family's hurt and pain.

The statement was issued in response to a request from the Feeney family for the IRA to publicly acknowledge that its members killed the schoolgirl.

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams
Gerry Adams said he hoped the statement would bring closure
On Friday, the family said the statement "brings closure" for them.

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams said that he welcomed this development.

"The most important element in all of that is the Feeney family," he said.

"I would hope that the statement helps to bring closure to that family and I therefore welcome the statement."

DUP East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell said it would be "of some comfort" to the Feeney family but would "only add new hurt to the grief" of the relatives of the soldier who was killed in retaliation.

There is no justification whatsoever for murdering a child
David McClarty
Ulster Unionist MLA
"It would appear that in advance of a likely IRA statement, republicans are seeking to sanitise themselves and shift pressure away from probing questions about their ongoing terrorist and criminal activities," he added.

Ulster Unionist East Londonderry assembly member David McClarty said the IRA apology had come "30 years too late".

"There is no justification whatsoever for murdering a child," he added.

SDLP leader Mark Durkan said no family should ever have had to lose someone to such violence.

"No family and no community should have been left for so long with a false understanding of such a great loss," he said.

Youth acquitted

Two years after the shooting, a 18-year-old youth was acquitted of Kathleen's murder. The judge said the Crown had failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that he fired the fatal shot.

Four shots were fired but the teenager told police he fired only one shot.

The judge concluded a second and possibly more experienced gunman was involved.

The defendant was also cleared on two separate charges of attempting to murder soldiers and of IRA membership.

He was jailed for seven years after admitting having an Armalite rifle and ammunition.

IRA says sorry to civilian victims
17 Jul 02 |  Northern Ireland
Peace means having to say sorry
17 Jul 02 |  Northern Ireland

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