Children of the Troubles—an appeal

Published in Issue 5 (September/October 2018), Letters, Volume 26

Sir,—We are Joe Duffy and Freya McClements, two journalists and authors who are writing a book that remembers the children—aged sixteen and under—who were killed during the period known as the Troubles.

The 14th of August 2018 marked the 49th anniversary of the death of the first child to die in the Troubles—nine-year-old Patrick Rooney, shot dead in his home in Belfast in 1969. It was also the anniversary of the death of another child victim, twelve-year-old Majella O’Hare. The following day, 15 August, is the twentieth anniversary of the Omagh bombing, which saw eight children and the mother of unborn twins numbered among the 29 dead. It also marks 49 years since the death of the second child killed in the Troubles, Gerard McAuley, and the anniversary of thirteen-year-old Joseph McGuinness, who was shot dead in 1976 as he walked to a fish and chip shop with friends.

These are just some of the children’s lives that were lost because of the conflict—a loss that, we are well aware, is felt by their families every day. The death of any child is a tragedy, and there is no circumstance that can make it any less so. Many families have told us, however, that what intensifies their loss is that many of the children who were killed have been publicly forgotten. Incredibly, to date there is no complete list of the children who died, and in many cases there is little or no information about them in the public domain. This is something we hope to address by creating not just a record of each child but also a book that will remember them as the children they were.

To do so, we would like to ask for your readers’ help. We are currently in the process of making contact with the families of all the children killed during the Troubles, both to ensure that the material in the book is correct and to invite them to share memories and photographs of their loved one. We are asking relatives—no matter how distant—of children (aged sixteen and under) who died as a result of the Troubles to contact us at either of the addresses below. We will be glad to explain more about the book and, we hope, how you might be able to help with our research.—Yours etc.,

JOE DUFFY and FREYA McCLEMENTS
childrenofthetroubles@gmail.com
Holywell DiverseCity Community Partnership
10–14 Bishop Street
Derry/Londonderry
BT48 6PW
Northern Ireland

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