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11 Aug 2022

Kathleen Thompson remembered in Guildhall Vigil

'Without the support of the people of Derry, we may never have won' - Minty Thompson

The Thompson Family

The Thompson Family at Saturday's Vigil in memory of their mother, Kathleen.

In a fitting finale to the Thompson Family 'Thank You Vigil' in Derry's Guildhall, the assembled crowd held one minute's applause to celebrate what Pat Finucane Centre, Advocate, Sara Duddy, described as the family's "victory". 

The Vigil took place on Saturday afternoon, following the conclusion of the second inquest into the death of Mrs Kathleen Thompson, the previous Wednesday.

Mrs Thompson was killed by a bullet to the chest, fired by Soldier D, who fired two bullets into the garden of her Rathlin Gardens home in Creggan, on November 6, 1971.

The coroner found Soldier D had been "unjustified" in firing the shots which killed the mother-of-six.

Those assembled at Vigil holding one minute's applause for the Thompson Family.

 

Speaking to the assembled crowd, Kathleen's daughter, Minty Thompson, said her mother had been “vindicated” by the findings of the second inquest.

 

 

Minty said: "After 50 years and seven months, Wednesday done it for us. Our mother is innocent. On the night she was murdered, the British State thought she was not even worthy of an inquest, an investigation. When they did give us an inquest, it was an open verdict. The mother of six children was worth 84 pounds and seven pence [£84.07]. That was the value they put on her. 

"But the State forgot that for all of those who have been murdered, behind is a family. A family that is going to fight for the truth, the acknowledgement and the justice. Kathleen Thompson was our mother and we fought and we fought hard but without the support of the people of Derry and across the North, we may never have won. But we did."

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Minty said there were people the family needed to thank with their "hearts and souls and at some stage we will get round to thank them".

These included, the Pat Finucane Centre; Karen Quinlivan, Andrew Moriarty, Fearghál Shiels and Ciarán Shiels of Madden and Finucane; Martina Anderson [MEP] and Time for Truth; Raymond McCartney, Rose and Conchúr; the Greater Shantallow Area Partnership; Sandra Duffy; and Colum Eastwood [MP].

Minty added: "To everybody here and I promise, as a family, we will get round each individual, I thank you and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. 

"I need to remember, without the love and care that I had from my father and his immediate family, and our relatives, we may not be standing here today. And also for Pat, my brother that never lived to see it. So, thank you everybody from the bottom of my heart." 

Speaking afterwards to Derry Now, Minty said: "We had to see it through and we did see it through. And for them that maybe have a chance, it is still there and it can be done. My fear is, for families who won't get inquests, [as a result of the Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill.]

Opening Saturday's Vigil, Sara Duddy said she and Paul O'Connor, Advocate Manager at the Pat Finucane Centre had been privileged to be able to work with and support the Thompson Family over the past number of decades.

 

Sara added: "It is brilliant you are standing today in solidarity and support with the Thompson Family. This started in Derry. It was important this part if the journey was finished in Derry."

 

Paul O'Connor, then explained how the campaign began, when Jordan Thompson (6) asked his daddy: 'What happened to granny?'

 

He added: "The total failure of the RUC to interview any witnesses had been a violation of the European Convention of Human Rights."

 

Sara Duddy told the crowd that Soldier D had in fact outed himself.

This left the Thompson Family dilemma at inquest. Did they want to be told the soldier's name but not be allowed to see his face in court or see his face as he gave evidence but his name be name withheld. The family chose the latter.

 

Outlining the possible implications of the Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy & Reconciliation) Bill, if it was passed, Paul O'Connor said inquests such as Kathleen Thompson's would no longer be permissible.

 

Flautist, Cormac Breatnach then played 'Mná na hÉireann' by Seán Ó Riada.

 

He was followed by Máire Ní Dhurcáin who read 'Brón ar an mBas' le Pádraig Pearse for Kathleen Thompson. Kathleen was a great lover of Irish culture.

 

Paul O'Connor told the Vigil there would be a memorial in Strabane in August, for the 50th Anniversary of Tobias Molloy who was shot with a rubber bullet.

 

Tony Doherty of the Bloody Sunday Trust then spoke about the solidarity between families.

"Families like the Thompsons gave freely of their time and input to us struggling families, during the long Bloody Sunday campaign," he said.

 

Singer, Eileen Webster, then dedicated her rendition of 'Bread & Roses' to the Thompson Family, adding: "Congratulations are in order to the family's heroic and sustained struggle to get some semblance of justice last Wednesday."

 

Flautist, Cormac Breatnach, then played a second tune, which commemorated Lord O'Neill's march to Kinsale to help the ill-fated Spanish Armada.

 

At the conclusion of the Thompson Family 'Thank You Vigil', Minty Thompson and Tony Doherty embraced warmly.

 

On Wednesday, the Coroner said Soldier D had violated the yellow card rules and his actions were dangerous.

The death had not been properly investigated.

The Thompson Family was fully vindicated and won a decades long  fight for the truth to be officially acknowledged.

 

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