From the Pat Finucane Centre:
The British Ministry of Defence has agreed to temporarily withdraw and amend its controversial military analysis of Operation Banner, the British Army codename for operations here between August 1969 and July 31 2007. Stephanie English of the PFC explained:
“The decision was prompted by a complaint we lodged on behalf of the family of Derry teenager Daniel Hegarty who was shot dead by British soldiers during Operation Motorman in the early hours of July 31 1972 in the Creggan estate, Derry. In July this year the Pat Finucane Centre alerted the media and public to the existence of the military document and highlighted a number of serious errors and gaps in the document. These included a
reference to Operation Motorman where it was claimed that Daniel Hegarty, an unarmed 15 year teenager, was a ‘terrorist’. We wrote to Defence Minister Des Brown in July and called from the document to be withdrawn and the reference to Daniel Hegarty corrected. We pointed out that (then NIO Minister) Des Brown had actually written to the Hegarty family in 2003 and had expressly clarified that “neither I nor the Government have ever said that Daniel was a terrorist.”
The Ministry of Defence have now replied and confirmed that, “As you state in your letter the Secretary of State has previously written letters to the effect that Daniel is considered innocent and we continue to stand by those comments. The paragraph in question is inaccurate and this should have been picked during proof reading, but unfortunately was not.
The MOD spokesperson continued, ” I recognise the considerable distress this must have caused the family and
I have instructed the report be removed from our website and an amended version produced. I would also like to offer my sincere apologies to Daniel’s family.
Daniel’s sister Margaret Brady has welcomed the belated recognition of the hurt caused to the family. “I welcome the fact that this document is to be amended. Its wrong that we should have to fight to clear Daniel’s name when the wrong was done to us in the first place. I only wish they would accept that the British Army shot many many people without justification and where they posed no threat. Young Seamus Bradley was shot that same night and his inquest found that he was unarmed.
Stephanie English of the PFC said, “To be honest we were in for the long haul and thought that much more pressure would be needed but it seems that very few people in Whitehall are willing to stand over this document which is littered with inaccuracies, exaggerations and deeply racist assumptions. We do feel it important to set the record straight. It’s a pity that the other rubbish cannot be corrected but at least this represents a small victory for the Hegarty family.
Contact the PFC at 02871 268846 for more information. The Hegarty family have requested that the media not contact them for private family reasons.