Death ripped family apart, says garda's son as Belfast honours terrorism victims
The son of the first garda killed in the Troubles has said his family was torn apart by the devastating murder.
Richard Fallon was gunned down during a botched armed robbery by paramilitary group Saor Eire at Arran Quay in Dublin in 1970. He was 44 at the time.
No one has ever been convicted of his murder, and his youngest child Finian said his violent death destroyed his mother Deirdre, who he said never got over it.
"I was four at the time, so I don't remember much, but I do have a very distinct recollection of the funeral," he said.
"I nearly fell into the grave after my father and had to be recovered.
"I had no real understanding of what was going on at the time, it was just a lot of people in heavy coats walking around."
Mr Fallon, the youngest of five, said he had no recollection of anyone sitting him down and telling him what had happened in the days after his father was killed. And he said he did not realise at the time the impact of his father's death on his mother.
"It was something that we always talked about, it was always part of the family, but it wasn't something I really understood properly and then when I got to my teens I wanted to know a bit more about it," he said.
"In many ways, my father's death really destroyed the family, it was especially difficult for my mum, who had to bring up five children by herself.
"The family certainly wasn't as cohesive as it was, although it was something that I grew up with, so I wasn't as aware of that until later in life.
"Looking back, my mother spent her whole life grieving.
"I have very scant memories of my father; I can remember his uniform before he went to work, I can remember him walking around with me standing on his feet as he walked.
"He would have spoken to me when I was in my cot and apparently I would have spoken to him after he was dead, I used to have conversations with him. My mum's heart was broken by the whole thing."
Mr Fallon is travelling to Belfast today to attend a special event at Stormont to mark European Day for Victims of Terrorism. The annual event was established by the European Union following the Madrid bombings in 2004 and Mr Fallon said such occasions were important in the recovery process for victims and people affected by terrorism.
He said his family was never offered any kind of counselling following his father's death.
"I don't think in those days that people were very aware of things like that," said Mr Fallon, who has a doctorate in psychotherapy and is a trained counsellor himself.
"I know my mum was just pumped full of sedatives, there was no awareness of counselling in those days."
Today's event, being hosted by the TUV's Jim Allister, the UUP's Mike Nesbitt and former SDLP MLA Alban Maginness, will bring together a host of people affected by the Troubles.
Others attending the event include Mark Rodgers, whose 28-year-old council worker father Mark was killed alongside his colleague James Cameron in a gun attack by the UFF on Kennedy Way in Belfast in October 1993, and Noel Downey, who was seriously injured in a car bomb in June 1990.
Mr Allister said: "It is but right that one of the regions of Europe most savagely ravaged by terrorism should mark this important day."