Belfast Telegraph

'If the soldier who shot my brother said sorry, I would put my arms around him and forgive him'

By Donna Deeney

The sister of a 15-year-old boy shot dead by the Army said she would put her arms around the soldier who killed him and forgive him if he apologised for his actions.

Margaret Brady was aged just 14 when Daniel Hegarty was shot twice during Operation Motorman and branded a terrorist for almost 40 years.

But an inquest last week into his death found Daniel posed no threat, was unarmed and the soldiers present gave no medical assistance to the teenager or to his cousin, Christopher Hearty, who was also shot.

His family want the soldier responsible prosecuted but Margaret Brady said she wants to meet her brother’s killer.

“I feel sorry for the soldier who murdered Daniel. I wouldn't like to have that on my conscience,” she said.

“But if he asked to meet us, I would meet him — and I think that if he said sorry I could put my arms around him and forgive him and let it go at that.

“This last week has taken so much out of us but we were so relieved that finally the world knows my brother was innocent, he was not a terrorist and it has been as if we buried him all over again — only this time we were able to put him to rest with the truth which is all we want.”

Ms Brady said she stood at her brother’s grave on Sunday. “I said to him, ‘Daniel you are at peace now at long last' and I asked him to pray for us all for whatever happens next,” she said.

“We will ask the soldier is prosecuted, not because of hatred or out of spite, but because we believe everyone must be treated equally in the eyes of the law and you cannot be protected just because you wear a uniform.

“Six months after Daniel was shot, a soldier was shot near where we live and my father went out to him and tended to him and my mother said prayers for him, that’s the way we were bought up.

“The night Daniel was shot my mother asked Fr Rooney to say a Mass for the soldier who shot him because she said he would need God's help more that our Daniel.”

During the five-day inquest the jury heard how for weeks and months after Daniel's death his mother would continue to set his place at the dinner table and call him in for his tea.

Margaret said even on her death bed her mother still called for Daniel.

The family solicitor, Des Doherty, said it is now a matter for the Coroner to decided whether to refer the case to the Public Prosecution Service (PPS).

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