Belfast Telegraph

'I can never forgive Martin McGuinness for the death of Patsy but I'm past all the hatred and anger I felt'

Widow never got chance to ask why husband was targeted

By Donna Deeney

The first thought Kathleen Gillespie - a woman widowed by the IRA in Londonderry - had after hearing that Martin McGuinness had died was that she hoped his wife and family were with him when he drew his final breath.

In October 1990 Mrs Gillespie's husband Patsy was tied into the family car packed with 1,000lb of explosives and told to drive to an Army checkpoint at Coshquinn on the outskirts of the city.

That was the last time she set eyes on the man who was the love of her life and childhood sweetheart, and she was left to rear their three children without him.

Patsy Gillespie worked in a civilian capacity as a cook in Fort George Army base in Derry and by doing this he was viewed by the IRA and Martin McGuinness as "a legitimate target of war".

This terminology still stings Mrs Gillespie.

She wanted a meeting with Mr McGuinness to ask him why this was so, but feels robbed that now she will never know the answer.

Surrounded by precious family photographs, including those of the five grandchildren her husband never got to see, Kathleen told the Belfast Telegraph that Mr McGuinness's death didn't stir any real emotion within her.

Mrs Gillespie said: "I don't have any strong feeling one way or the other about Martin McGuinness having died. I wouldn't give him that hold on me. I knew he was ill and I knew it was serious but the only thing I do feel is that I have been robbed of the chance to meet him.

"He was once asked why Patsy Gillespie was murdered, and he said my husband Patsy Gillespie was a legitimate target of war.

"I wanted to know why he considered Patsy a legitimate target of war - that one question but now I will never get the chance to ask him.

"I never met the man myself but everyone knew I wanted to, I had talked about wanting to meet Martin McGuinness with other politicians so I am confident he knew, but now it is too late.

"I blame Martin McGuinness for the death of my husband and I can never forgive him for that but I have gone past the hatred and anger I felt, but sitting here today I feel robbed of getting an answer to that one question."

The pain of her loss has never left her, although she has had to learn how to manage the immense stress she was under after doctors warned her failure to do so would cost her her life too.

As Kathleen Gillespie prepares to take herself away from Derry rather than remain in the city today ahead of Mr McGuinness's funeral, she said she is envious of his widow Bernadette.

Mrs Gillespie explained: "When I heard that Martin McGuinness had died I didn't really think about him at all but my first thought was I hope his wife and family were there at his side and I hoped they got to talk to him.

"I know now, of course, that he died with his family around him and I am glad for them but I am envious of them too.

"They got more than I got because my husband was taken from me and I didn't get to say goodbye, I didn't even get to look in a coffin because there was nothing there to look at.

"If his wife loved him the way I loved Patsy then I am sad for her because I understand what she is feeling, but as I said, she got more than I did.

"The last time I saw Patsy was after the IRA came into our house and took him, but they told me he would come back and I never thought for one minute he wouldn't come home.

"Four hours after they took Patsy away one of the men who stayed in the house with me answered the phone and said 'that's us now, give us half an hour before you do anything'.

"I heard the explosion a short time later and I told the children, your daddy will be home shortly but that wasn't to be.

"The following day I had to wait the entire day to find out for sure Patsy was dead and that only came when they found a piece of his clothing that I was able to tell them was his.

"So you can see why I am envious of Martin McGuinness's wife and why I wouldn't want any wife to be left the way I was."

Belfast Telegraph

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