Scots soldier befriended the Irish boy he blinded during troubles

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A FORMER Scots soldier has revealed how he befriended the Irish boy he shot and blinded in Northern Ireland 41 years ago.

Charles Inness was a captain with the Royal Artillery in Londonderry in 1972 when he fired a rubber bullet at protesting youngsters.

The round hit 10-year-old Richard Moore, almost killing him and leaving him blinded for life.

Despite the horror that first bound them together, the two men have become firm friends
Despite the horror that first bound them together, the two men have become firm friends

 

Mr Inness, 71, from Whitsome, Scottish Borders, was haunted by the incident for decades.

But in 2006 the pair met for the first time in an Edinburgh hotel after finally exchanging letters.

Now firm friends, Mr Innes and Mr Moore, 52, are working together this week as part of the Remembrance Day commemorations, telling schoolchildren about their experiences.

Mr Innes, who later rose to become a major in the army, confessed he was left anguished immediately after the incident in May 1972, which happened just months after Bloody Sunday.

Mr Inness said: “I was filled with sadness and regret.

“It was a very hectic time. Although, following the incident, I turned down an offer to be relieved of my duties it was always at the back of my mind what had happened to the poor lad.”

The incident came after Richard’s uncle, Gerard McKinney, had been shot and killed during Bloody Sunday when British paratroopers opened fire on protesters, leaving 13 dead.

Almost three decades later, Charles was contacted by a colleague.

He said: “I’d been retired for a few years when I received a call from an ex-Royal Ulster Constabulary officer.

The men are talking to school children in connection with the Remembrance Day commemoration
The men are talking to school children in connection with the Remembrance Day commemoration

 

“He mentioned the name Richard Moore and it all came flooding back.

“The man told me how Richard’s life had panned out. How he’d graduated from university, run a number of businesses and founded the charity Children in Crossfire, which he set up to alleviate the suffering of those youngsters caught up in war.”

After corresponding by letter, the pair agreed to meet in the lobby of a hotel near Edinburgh airport seven years ago.

Mr Inness said: “I walked into the foyer and saw this man I knew instinctively who it was.

“After just a short time of chatting I got the feeling that I’d known him all of my life.

“Of course we talked about what happened. What struck me about Richard was how positive he was.

“He said to me ‘we can’t undo what happened but we can go forward.'”

Mr Inness traveled to Northern Ireland to meet Richard’s family and gave a talk in a Republican heartland.

Richard before he was shot
Richard before he was shot

 

He said: “When I walked into the room that day I could feel an element of hostility straight away.

“But by the end of the talk the whole room was in tears.

“There is a similar reaction whenever myself and Richard give our talks.

“I’m often asked if I feel guilty about what happened and my answer often causes an intake of breath from people who are listening.

“I don’t feel any guilt because to do so would suggest that I intended to do what I did.”

The plastic bullet almost killed Richard and left him blind for life
The plastic bullet almost killed Richard and left him blind for life

 

He continued: “Of course I wish that it had not happened and i never would have believed all these years later that I’d be such good friends with Richard.

“Richard is a terrific man and an inspiration.”

Mr Moore has previously said: “Never did I feel any resentment towards him.

“I think there were times in my life when I wondered if he understood the hurt that he caused – particularly when I found out his name and began to find out more about him.”

Mr Inness is now a patron of Mr Moore’s charity and traveled to Dharamsala, India, in 2010 to meet the Dalai Lama.

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