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Father of Aidan McAnespie dies before hearing judgment in case of son’s Troubles death

The unarmed 23-year-old was shot in the back and killed after walking through a border security checkpoint on his way to a GAA club

Campaigner John McAnespie

Brett CampbellBelfast Telegraph

The father of a man who was shot dead by a soldier in Co Tyrone more than 30 years ago has died.

John McAnespie spent the past 34 years campaigning for justice for his son Aidan who was killed on the Monaghan Road in Aughnacloy on February 21 1988.

The unarmed 23-year-old was killed seconds after walking through a fortified border security checkpoint while on his way to a local GAA club.

He was shot in the back.

Northern Ireland First Minister designate and Sinn Fein vice-president Michelle O’Neill said John’s death was “very sad news”.

"A gentleman and a daddy that dedicated his life to campaigning for truth and justice for his son Aidan,” she said. “He never gave up. Sincere condolences to the family at this sad time.”

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Sinn Féin MP Michelle Gildernew said she is “deeply saddened” following John’s death.

“My immediate thoughts are with his family and friends at this sad and difficult time,” she said.

“John McAnespie dedicated his life to campaigning for truth and justice for his son Aidan who was shot dead by the British Army in Aughnacloy in 1988.

“He never gave up.”

The Fermanagh and South Tyrone representative hailed the activist’s tireless pursuit of the truth.

“He was an inspirational, quiet and dignified man with a huge love for his community and local club Aghaloo GAA,” Ms Gildernew added.

“I offer sincere condolences on behalf of Sinn Féin. He will be missed by all. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.”

Judgment was reserved in July in the case against the former soldier accused of Aidan’s manslaughter.

David Jonathan Holden (52), c/o Chancery House, Victoria Street, Belfast, denied the charge during the non-jury Diplock-style trial at Belfast Crown Court

Mr Holden was aged 18 at the time and was serving with the Grenadier Guards from England.

Expressing its condolences to the McAnespie family, the Pat Finucane Centre said: “The PFC sends deepest sympathy to the McAnespie family of Aughnacloy on the death of John who was an unflinching campaigner for justice after his son, Aidan, was shot dead by a British soldier.”

Relatives for Justice added: “We were heartbroken to learn of the passing of John McAnespie, father of the late Aidan and our founding member Éilish.

"We extend comhbhrón ó chroí to John’s surviving children, his grandchildren, and great grandchildren.

"An inspirational, courageous and generous man John was tireless in his pursuit of justice for Aidan and it is of added poignancy that his passing comes as outcome is awaited in recent court proceedings.”

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