'Willie's dead'. I broke down and cried'

By Freya McClements
BBC News

Image caption, Mickey McKinney with his brother's camera, now in Free Derry Museum

"The last time I saw Willie, he was up a tree with his camera, filming the march."

Mickey McKinney's brother Willie was one of 13 people killed on 30 January 1972, Bloody Sunday. A fourteenth died later.

A printer with the Derry Journal newspaper, Willie was a keen amateur photographer and had received a cine camera for Christmas.

The camera, and his footage of the Bloody Sunday march, are now on display in Free Derry Museum.

Three of the McKinney brothers - Willie, Mickey, and their younger brother Joe - took part in the march.

"I remember coming down William Street and the march being stopped.

"Thousands of people were jammed into the street, and I could hear chanting and roaring and I knew something was going on at the barricade.

'All hell broke loose'

"I do have a memory of a helicopter flying very low above the crowd, and a soldier hanging out of it and giving the V sign and the crowd calling back at him.

"I met my girlfriend, now my wife, and we went up to my aunt who lived nearby.

"We had just got into the house when all hell broke loose.

"I remember somebody saying that five or six people were dead down at the barricade, and then my brother George came in and said he'd seen Joe and Joe was alright, but he didn't know where Willie was.

"Things then seemed to quieten down. I don't think the extent of it had sunk in."

Mickey and his girlfriend then went to her parents house in Creggan before going to Mass that evening.

"Father Rooney spoke about the terrible events of the afternoon, but I still didn't know that Willie was dead.

"Years later I found out that one of Willie's colleagues, Pat Clarke, had informed my father that Willie was dead. He had seen me coming out of Mass, but he said he just couldn't tell me.


"We then went home so I could tell my mother and father I was okay.

"I went into the house and it was full of people, and my father came and said to me, 'Willie's dead'.

"I just broke down and cried.

"It didn't really begin to sink in until the following morning.

"My father wakened me with his crying, and I could hear my brother George trying to comfort him.

"My father kept on saying, 'why couldn't they just have wounded him?'

"He was in such pain.

"Some years ago I met Michael McDaid's brother in a fish and chip shop.

"He worked in the Du Pont factory, and my father was a lagger in Du Pont.

"He told me he remembered getting into a lift once and my father was in the lift crying.

"He said he asked my father what was wrong and he said 'I just want to see my son'.

"That was 12 years after Bloody Sunday.

"I got married that year, and Joe got married not very long after, and I remember my mother saying to me that we had never seen her cry.

"She was right, we didn't.

"About eight years ago she told me the reason she didn't let us see her crying was because she was afraid she would have driven us into the IRA.

"She'd already lost one son, and she couldn't afford to lose any more."