Bloody Sunday widow to get £625,000 damages

The family of Gerald McKinney attend the High Court in Belfast where they were awarded damages from the MOD regarding the shooting dead of their brother Gerald McKinney during Bloody Sunday in January 1972.  '''Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
The family of Gerald McKinney attend the High Court in Belfast where they were awarded damages from the MOD regarding the shooting dead of their brother Gerald McKinney during Bloody Sunday in January 1972. '''Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

The widow of a man shot dead by a soldier on Bloody Sunday is to receive £625,000 in damages, the High Court has heard.

The settlement was reached in 80-year-old Ita McKinney’s legal action over her husband Gerry’s killing in Londonderry in January 1972.

Mr McKinney, a 35-year-old a father of eight, was among 13 people shot dead when British Army paratroopers opened fire on civil rights demonstrators.

One of the others wounded on the day died later.

In a separate resolution, the brother of single man Michael McDaid, 20, is to receive £75,000 in damages for his death on Bloody Sunday.

The outcomes follow last week’s award of £193,000 compensation to Michael Quinn, who was shot in the face as a schoolboy by one of the soldiers.

Mr Justice McAlinden congratulated lawyers involved in the test cases for reaching the settlements “without the need for any distressing sensitive or distressing evidence to be given”.

Claims were brought against the Ministry of Defence (MoD) by victims and their families after a major tribunal established the innocence of all those killed and wounded.

The Saville Inquiry’s findings in 2010 prompting the then prime minister, David Cameron, to publicly apologise for the actions of the soldiers.

He described the killings as “unjustified and unjustifiable”.

With liability accepted, the court battle centred on the level of damages to be paid out.

Mr McKinney was shot at Abbey Park in the city after going on the civil rights march.

A qualified engineer and toolmaker by trade, he had been a renowned entrepreneur prior to his death.

He and his wife Ita had seven children, with an eighth born a week after Bloody Sunday.

In court today a dispute emerged over methods for calculating the financial loss in his case.

Counsel for Mrs McKinney, Brian Fee QC, claimed the defendants were attempting to use rules from the 1970s in order to pay out just a tenth of the appropriate damages.

He contended that it went against government pledges about taking a generous approach to compensating victims.

But following further out of court discussions it was confirmed that both listed cases had been resolved.

Mrs McKinney is to receive £625,000 plus costs in the action she brought on behalf of her late husband’s dependants.

Kevin McDaid, who sued over the shooting of his brother Michael near a barricade on Rossville Street, will receive £75,000 damages, also with costs.

David Ringland QC, for the MoD, indicated that similar agreements are now expected to be reached in nine other fatal cases following the “breakthrough”.

Outside court solicitor Fearghal Shiels, representing the relatives involved in the lawsuits, said: “This is a further vindication of their innocence and the families in bringing the proceedings.

“We also welcome the fact that this has been resolved without the need for Mr McKinney’s daughters to take the witness box.”