Belfast Telegraph

Sean McGinley shocked TV audiences as a boy of 7 when he said he'd die for Ireland ... now a convicted killer, he watches that interview today

By Rebecca Black

Forty years after being interviewed as a bright-eyed young boy, ex-IRA prisoner Sean McKinley looks decades older than his 52 years.

In the 1970s, journalist Peter Taylor interviewed him as a 12-year-old boy playing with his friends in Divis on the Lower Falls.

He had an IRA tattoo on his hand and said he hated soldiers.

In an interview which Mr Taylor said haunted him for years, the young boy said he wanted to fight and die for Ireland.

When asked how he got along with soldiers who patrolled the Divis area, he said with a smile: "I don't like them, when I grow up I am going to fight them."

Mr Taylor asked: "You say that you'll fight the soldiers?", to which the child nodded and answered: "When I grow up."

When asked why, he said: "Because I want to fight for my country, and die for it."

Just two weeks before that interview he had joined the Fianna – the youth wing of the IRA.

Some years after the interview he would go on to kill a soldier.

He was convicted for the murder and served a life sentence at the H-Blocks of the Maze Prison.

Four decades after that first interview, Mr Taylor tracked Mr McKinley down again to find out what had happened to him in the intervening years.

While Mr McKinley greeted Mr Taylor telling him he looked just the same, the opposite could be said of him, hunched over a walking frame as he answered the door.

Mr Taylor showed him the footage from the 1970s interview and asked what he thought of that now

Mr McKinley looked sad as he watched the film.

When asked what he would say to a similar child today who wanted to fight and die for Ireland, he responded: "I would advise him to forget it, because I know a lot of people who died and they thought they were freedom fighters, dying for their country but it never worked out that way.

"It never worked out."

When asked what the IRA achieved, Mr McKinley said: "They are in Government, they are in Stormont."

When it was pointed out there was no united Ireland, he responded softly: "We'll get there, I'm sure we will. I have every faith in Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, every faith in them."

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