Belfast Telegraph

Watch: Fifty years on, I still want justice for Patrick, says brother who watched him die in family home

Leona O'Neill

By Leona O'Neill

The brother of the first child killed in Northern Ireland's Troubles says his family will never give up the fight for justice, as they prepare to commemorate the 50th anniversary of his death.

Patrick Rooney was just nine years old when he was shot dead in his home in Divis Flats, Belfast, on August 14, 1969.

Serious rioting - which evolved into what became known as the Battle of the Bogside - had erupted in Londonderry two days beforehand following the annual Apprentice Boys march.

British troops had been deployed on the streets of the city, and then in Belfast as disturbances spilled over.

The funeral of nine-year-old Patrick Rooney
The funeral of nine-year-old Patrick Rooney

When west Belfast man Con Rooney looked out the window of his Divis flats home, the streets were on fire.

Con (58) was just eight when he witnessed his brother's brutal death.

He says he wants to see the RUC man who killed his brother in court.

The father-of-one says the memories of that night still haunt him.

"Patrick was my older brother," he explains.

"He was nine and I was eight.

"He was one of six kids and was a lovely child.

"He was a mummy's boy, was intelligent, very caring and wanted to be a priest.

"We lived on the ground floor of Divis Flats.

Patrick's distraught mother that day
Patrick's distraught mother that day

"That night outside our windows was just fire, chaos and gun shots.

"There were buildings being burned down.

"It looked like the end of the world.

Patrick Rooney
Patrick Rooney

"I had visions of the police coming in and just shooting us all. I was terrified.

"We were told to fill the bath up with water and clothes in case any petrol bombs hit the flats.

"My mother Alice and my father Neely were extremely worried.

"Daddy was outside, he was trying to get us up to his sister's house further up the flats.

"He was crawling along the wall but was pinned down and couldn't go any further.

"So he had to come back and decided to get us all into one of the back bedrooms and we were cowering there, hoping that the shooting would die down.

"Then suddenly my daddy was shot in the head and my mum was grazed in the cheek by a bullet.

"Then Patrick just slid down the wall. We thought that he had fainted.

"But when my mummy lifted him her coat sleeve was saturated in blood.

"He had been hit in the back of the head.

"There was blood all over the wall and the ceiling.

"It was horrifying to see.

"He was put on the bed.

"We all started to get down and pray around the bed.

"My mummy had run downstairs and started to scream that her son had been shot.

"And, as kids, we were trying to pull her back in again because the bullets were still whizzing and flying past us still.

"The police wouldn't let the ambulance through and they had to get him to Percy Street and from there he was taken to the hospital.

"Later that night Daddy came back as dawn was breaking and we could still hear gunfire.

"He told us that he had just identified Patrick in the mortuary and all hell broke loose.

"We were all screaming and crying.

"My mummy was screaming her head off.

"The images that I saw that night haunt me.

"Every time I pass Divis Tower I think of what I saw."

Con says that in the days after his brother's murder he suffered delayed shock, slipping into unconsciousness for three days.

He says he still suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Con says his mother had a breakdown and one of his sisters used alcohol as a crutch to deal with her grief and trauma.

As his father Neely lay dying of liver cancer six years ago, he asked his now eldest son to carry on the fight for justice for Patrick. Con says he will never give up. "I would like to see a prosecution," he says.

"I want to get some kind of justice.

"When I go, my child and my sister's children will take it on and keep going.

"People say that these police officers and soldiers are too old to face prosecution.

"That's rubbish.

"I think they should be taken to court.

"Margaret Thatcher said that 'murder is murder is murder' and they are still hunting down Nazi killers.

"I want to see the man who murdered my brother in jail."

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