The father of a Co Fermanagh boy who died in the IRA blast which killed Lord Mountbatten has told how bomber Tommy McMahon rejected his plea for a face-to-face meeting on the 30th anniversary of the deaths.
John Maxwell has endured three decades of grief since since his 15-year-old son Paul, a boat boy, died instantly when he was blown up alongside the Queen’s cousin on a fishing boat off the coast of Co Sligo.
Lord Louis Mountbatten (79), one of his twin grandsons, 14-year-old Nicholas Knatchbull, and Lady Doreen Brabourne, the daughter of the Marquess of Sligo, all died in a bomb blast detonated by remote control while on a boat at Mullaghmore, almost 30 years ago on August 27, 1979.
Paul Maxwell was on the boat earning some pocket money by showing the party the best spots to catch fish.
Now his father has told how his plea for a meeting with the only person convicted of the bombing, Tommy McMahon (61), was turned down.
Mr Maxwell told the Sunday Telegraph: “I’ve made two approaches to McMahon, the first through a priest who warned me in advance that he thought there wouldn’t be any positive response.
“And there wasn’t. I have some reservations about meeting him, obviously. It might work out in a way that I would regret having made the contact.
“McMahon knows the door is open at this end. I think I would like to ask if I had killed his son, for whatever reason, how would he feel about it?
“Would he be capable of putting himself in my shoes to look at it from my angle. I’d be interested to know how he would reply to that.”
McMahon, a father-of-two, now lives in Lisanisk, near Carrickmacross in Co Monaghan.
He was arrested by Gardai together with Francis McGirl, who died in 1995, and was in custody 70 miles from the explosion when it went off after being stopped by chance at a checkpoint.
McMahon had flakes of green paint from Lord Mountbatten’s boat and traces of nitroglycerine on his clothes. The bomb had been detonated by remote control at 11.39am when the boat, Shadow V, was about 200 yards from the harbour.
McMahon received a life sentence three months after the bombing. He was released in August 1998 as part of the Good Friday Agreement.