Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Unyielding support for under-fire McCanns in Co Donegal

An 'unending nightmare' for Kate and Gerry McCann

In the sleepy Co Donegal village of St Johnston, where Madeleine's granny Eileen still owns a bar, residents were resolute in their support for the family after the latest revelations from the Portuguese police.

Gerry McCann's father John was born in Derry and grew up in St Johnston.

His sister Philomena was also born in Lifford, and the family left Donegal in 1967.

Indeed the McCanns visited the area just months before their fateful visit to Portugal.

Joe Peoples runs the bar in the village and said that people were stunned by developments in the case.

"The whole thing had died down for a while and then this new idea came along and tongues started wagging," he said.

"I have known the family all my life, I was speaking to Eileen just the other day. I met Kate the once and Gerry twice and they are lovely people.

"John was born in this building.

"I just wish they would find the wee girl, hopefully alive. It must be awful for them, I can't imagine what they are going through."

John Curran, who had called in for an afternoon pint, added: "It is hard to know what is going on.

"But people around here wouldn't take on a lot of what is being said about them, they would be very supportive."

John White is another local who is firmly behind the family.

"I was reared with the McCanns, they are a good family," he said.

"I wouldn't believe what these people have been saying about them, absolutely not."

Hairdresser Carol Doherty agreed that the situation had taken everyone by surprise, saying: "We would all be behind them, yes."

"It was awful for the child to go missing and then for the police to suspect them."

Builder Andrew Magee said he was shocked at news that the girl's parents were now suspects.

"We are all behind them 100%," he said.

"All this stuff coming out has shocked me, to be honest. If she (Kate McCann) is innocent and they try and arrest or charge her, it would be terrible.

"Everyone knows that the family is from here originally and would find it hard to believe they would harm a child."

And in the local post office, Danny Gillespie said: "It is difficult to know, it is a difficult situation.

"We just hope that the girl is all right and that all these rumours are untrue."

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