The former girlfriend of a teenage boy, shot dead by the IRA nearly 40 years ago for allegedly being an informer, is demanding an apology and an explanation from Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams after it emerged that he was not an informer after all.
Terry Herdman was shot dead and dumped by a lonely country road in Co Tyrone in 1973 with a piece of brown paper around his neck on which the word ‘tout’ had been written with a felt-tipped pen. Until recently this was the only statement from his killers explaining their actions.
Now Libby Abrams, after several meetings with representatives of the republican movement, has been told privately that her old boyfriend and the father of her child was not an informer after all.
The Provos still, however, stand over the order to “execute” him, even though he was only 17 at the time, too young even to be a member of the IRA
Two representatives of the republican movement met with Libby and her daughter Lisa and read a statement to them.
That statement said that young Herdman had not been an informer but that he had been “a liability”.
They declined to explain what that meant.
Libby said that Terry had not been a formal member of the IRA but that he had been friendly with members and sympathetic to the cause.
A report from the Historical Enquiries Team also dismissed any suggestion that Terry had been passing information to the Army or the police
Libby Abrams said that her life had been ruined by the murder of her young lover.
She raised their daughter Lisa and it was Lisa’s recent diagnosis with cancer that spurred her to seek an apology for the murder of Terry Herdman.
She said: “With the shock of the news that Lisa had cancer, I was back in the day when I heard Terry was dead.”
Terry Herdman had never seen his child.
She was born three weeks before he died and at that time Terry’s parents had sent him away from Belfast to live with his grandparents in Belturbet for his safety.
“He held her in his arms once, when he was in his coffin. I lifted her in,” said Libby.
“And the memory that stays with me is that when I reached behind his head to touch him and kiss him, I felt only cotton wool there.”
And she added: “They have to tell me why they did that to him and to tell the world that he was not an informer, for that stigma stays with him still.” Speaking on the matter, a Sinn Féin spokesperson said: “Gerry Adams is currently in the United States of America and not available for comment.
“However Gerry is on public record as supporting the rights of victims of the conflict to truth and justice.
“It is our view that this will be best achieved through the establishment of an international, independent truth commission which republicans have stated they will be prepared to take part in.”