Patrick Rooney Age 9
First Child killed in the Troubles
14th August 1969
Patrick was the first child to be killed during the Troubles he died shortly after being struck by a tracer bullet by the RUC as he lay in his bed in his family home in Divis Tower. The shot was fired from a heavy browning machine-gun mounted on an RUC Shorland armoured car.
The Scarman tribunal concluded that the shot was not justified.
The report described the activities of three Shorland vehicles which passed up and down Divis Street in the vicinity of Divis Tower. Ordered into the area after the fatal shooting of Herbert Roy , they were immediately fired on and attacked with an explosive device and petrol bombs by republicans.
Gunners inside the vehicles returned fire with machine-guns and the ground floor Rooney flat was hit by at least four bullets.
See: The Scarman Tribunal
Patrick was in bed at the time and was hit in the head and died shortly after arriving at hospital.
His mother said during an interview:
” There was rioting, half the street was on fire. I was trying to watch TV and Patrick had gone to bed. Ill always remember he told me not to wake him up until late because he was serving at one o’clock mass. He was an altar boy at St. Mary’s “
His father a former soldier said:
” The rioting got worse and then the shooting started I thought of getting all the children into one room but before we had time to organised and lie down the room lit up in flames ,I was grazed by a bullet and Patrick seemed to fall along the wall. I thought he fainted from seeing me bleed, but then I saw the back of his head was covered in blood and I knew the flashes had been bullets and that Patrick was shot”
After the shooting the Ronneys moved to Manchester with their other children but later returned to Belfast. His mother stated:
” I wasn’t content knowing that Patrick was buried here and I wanted to be near him “
A year after his death the couple had another son and named him after Patrick.
Belfast 1969 – Peace Walls & Barricades – Ireland Part 1
In a further tragedy for the family Mrs Rooney’s sister Mary Sheppard was shot dead by loyalist in 1974 whilst a nephew Sean Campbell was also killed by loyalist three years later in 1977. Two friends of one of their sons were also killed during the Troubles. One Stephen Bennett was killed in an inal bomb in 1982. Another relative Thomas Reilly was shot dead by a soldier in 1983,
The book Unholy Smoke by G.W Target is dedicated:
To the Memory of
Killed by a stray bullet
During the fighting on the night of august 14th 1969
Christ have mercy on us.
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