Families of Troubles victims to use pioneering archive project
The families of those killed or wounded in the Troubles are being given the chance to tell their stories in a new archive that will ensure their memory is not forgotten.
The Recovery of Living Memory Archive (ROLMA) is poised to set about collating personal data from relatives of the dead and wounded.
The project is the first of its kind and each case file will include personal testimonies together with reports from bodies such as the Historical Enquiries Team and Police Ombudman’s Office.
It will also include input from the Pat Finucane Centre and evidence unearthed from de-classified State files in London.
Anne Cadwallader, from the PFC’s Armagh office, said: “It will be up to each family to decide if they want the public to have access straight away or if they want to keep it confidential for 10 or 20 years.
“At some stage the records will be made available to the public, academics and students.
“For example, in the future people will be able to see what happened to their great, great grandfather during the Troubles. The reason we are doing this is so that you, the families, can be reassured that your memory of your loved one and the effect it had on you will never be lost.
“You can be confident you won’t be written out of history and the person deprived of his or her life is remembered in your family’s words.
“You can tell your own story in your words in your own way,” she said.
The cross-border, PEACE III funded initiative will be run in Northern Ireland by the Pat Finucane Centre in conjunction with Justice For the Forgotten in the Republic.
The finished files will be stored in an online archive as well as at the Linenhall Library in Belfast and the National Library in Dublin.
Jimmy’s words, not the HET’s, tell real story of my murdered husband
The widow of a man shot and killed by the UDA in 1972 has urged others to record their own memories of their loved ones as part of a pioneering new archive project.
Kay McGerty from Omagh spoke about her own personal experiences of recording memories of her husband Jimmy.
Mrs McGerty was among several relatives of those killed and wounded during the Troubles who gathered for the launch of the Recovery of Living Memory Archive (ROLMA) in Creggan.
Cavan native Mr McGerty had gone to Belfast to get supplies for his newly opened homeware shop in Antrim, where the couple lived, on July 26, 1972.
However the 26-year-old was stopped at a UDA checkpoint and later shot dead along with another man, John Corr. Both were shot because they were Catholic.
Mrs McGerty received a letter from the Historical Enquiries Team in 2007 stating the circumstances of her husband’s death were going to be re-examined.
“I read the letter and said, ‘Do I really want to go down this road?’ Five minutes later I said, look this is going to happen, and I went ahead and phoned the HET and said yes I was going with it.” She said the next part of the journey began after she received advice that the Pat Finucane Centre would give support to the family.
Together with her nephew, Kay travelled to the PFC centre in Derry and said it was “a win-win situation all the way”.
She said it proved difficult to gather up the strength to read the draft HET reports at first, but with the assistance of the PFC and the Wave Centre in Omagh, she was able to eventually go through the documents, ending up with a “more livable” final report earlier this year.
She said the report “showed there was no real investigation into the deaths in 1972”.
A few months ago while searching for documents, Mrs McGerty came across two poems her husband had penned, one has been included in her personal testimony.
“I thought that will just tell the type of the man he was,” she said.
A photo of the couple on their wedding day, just two years and two months before Jimmy was killed, is included.
“I would recommend other people write their own memories and their own story about their own relatives.
“For me this is the document that I personally concentrate on, not the stuff the HET wrote.”