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Home » The Troubles: ‘Forgiving My Sister’s IRA Killer Healed Me’

The Troubles: ‘Forgiving My Sister’s IRA Killer Healed Me’

Image source, Feeney family

Image caption, Mary, pictured on the left, said she was angry for a long time after her sister Kathleen, was killed

By Teresa Craig


A woman whose teenage sister was killed by the IRA 50 years ago says she has come to forgive the gunman who shot her.

Kathleen Feeney,14, was killed near her home in the Brandywell area of Londonderry on 14 November 1973.

The IRA blamed the British Army for shooting the Derry teenager and claimed later it had killed a soldier in retaliation.

But in 2005 the IRA admitted that one of its members shot the 14-year-old.

Kathleen’s sister Mary Morrison said it took a long time to forgive the man who killed her.

“I myself forgive him – that has healed me,” she told BBC Radio Foyle’s North West Today programme.

“I was only hurting myself.

“There were four people involved in it – two girls, two fellas – no-one has ever been convicted. It is their sin, not mine.”

Mary said she understood the man who killed her sister has died.

Image source, Feeney family

Image caption, Kathleen’s sister describes her as a “funny, bright, brilliant sister”

On the day Kathleen was killed, their older brother Danny had been told there was “a wee girl lying outside the shop”.

The two sisters – Mary was one year older than Kathleen – had just got new coats.

“I think he recognised the coat,” said Mary.

“He went over and turned her over. It was our Kathleen.”

Danny went with Kathleen in an ambulance. She was alive but unconscious.

He talked to her, asked her to squeeze his hand, Mary said.

But by the time they had crossed the city, Kathleen was dead.

Image source, Feeney family

Image caption, Kathleen’s mother and father both died prior to the IRA’s admission and apology

Mary says the days after her sister’s death are a blur and the years since have been equally challenging.

“Even at the funeral and wake, there is very little memory of it for me,” she said.

“When I look at the photos, everyone is just devastated.”

The two sisters had come as “a duo”.

“Kathleen was funny and bright, a brilliant sister,” Mary said.

Growing up with your sister, then not having her, and as you get older and have your own children and wondering about her, wondering if she would have had children.

“You don’t move on, but you get on with your life, think of the happy times we had when we were all together.”

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Mary said the family had known the IRA was responsible for Kathleen’s death “from three or four days” after the shooting.

Years later she saw former Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams on television and wrote to him to ask for help getting to the truth about her sister’s death.

In a statement in the Derry Journal newspaper, the IRA said it apologised unreservedly for what happened and admitted that its failure to admit killing Kathleen added to the family’s hurt and pain.

An anniversary Mass was held in Derry on Tuesday to mark the 50th anniversary of Kathleen’s killing.

A number of her personal items are currently on display in the Museum of Free Derry.