Belfast Telegraph

Impact of terrorism laid bare as victims tell their stories at Stormont event

By Claire O'Boyle

Relatives of people murdered by republicans and loyalists and Troubles survivors will gather at Stormont on Monday for an event marking the 13th European Day for Victims of Terrorism.

The event, to be held in Parliament Buildings' Senate chamber, will hear from three men whose lives were torn apart by violence.

They include David Kelly. At nine he was the eldest of four sons when his Irish Army father was killed by republicans in 1983.

Private Patrick Kelly (36) was murdered without warning and in cold blood alongside 23-year-old Garda Gary Sheehan in Co Leitrim.

The killings, during a bid to rescue kidnapped businessman Don Tidey, shocked the Republic.

It was the first time a member of the Irish Army had died in a hostile act in the country since the Irish Civil War.

Now 42, David is looking forward to sharing his family's story at the event.

He said: "I have met many victims of the Troubles over the years and every story is heartbreaking, no matter what background people come from.

"I was the oldest boy, and my youngest brother was just 11 weeks old when our father was killed.

"It really did have drastic consequences for our family, and I would say it cast a terrible shadow over my mother Katherine's life.

"She was a quiet, extremely shy woman and our father was the driving force in our family, so when he was murdered it made such a huge impact.

"There she was, a young woman suddenly left with four young boys.

"It was dreadful for her and she had to face a big State funeral the week before Christmas with these children to care for with no husband.

"Sadly, she passed away in 2010 at just 57."

Mr Kelly, who lives in Moate, Co Westmeath, and whose youngest brother Andrew is now a corporal in the Irish Army, says it will be an honour to speak at Stormont on Monday.

"There are many more victims of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, but our family was affected very badly too, so it will be good to get the opportunity to speak about the effect it all had.

"The irony was that there was my father, a legitimate member of the Irish Army, murdered in cold blood by men who claimed they were members of another Irish army.

"He had been on peace-keeping missions in Lebanon, and he was murdered on his own doorstep.

"It's extremely galling, and to know no one has ever faced justice for his death is tough."

Mr Kelly will be joined by Noel Downey, who was seriously injured in an IRA car bomb in June 1990.

Just 26 at the time, he was a part-time member of the UDR, and was not on duty when the booby-trap went off.

Mr Downey lost his left leg and sustained serious injuries to the entire left side of his body, including his hand and back.

He is one of many who would benefit from the proposed Troubles pension for the seriously injured.

One person was convicted of the attack in Lisnaskea, Co Fermanagh.

Mark Rodgers, who will also speak, was 29 when he lost his father on October 26, 1993.

Mark Rodgers snr was murdered with James Cameron at their council depot at Kennedy Way in Belfast.

The double murder, which saw five others wounded, was committed by the UFF.

Mr Rodgers (28) and Mr Cameron (54) were both Catholics.

The attack was carried out three days after the IRA's Shankill Bombing which killed 10, including Thomas Begley, one of the bombers.

Kenny Donaldson, spokesman for Innocent Victims United, said: "Mark, Noel and David represent our community in its fullest terms and they also come from areas across this island - north and south.

"The three men are united in that they are innocent victims and survivors of terrorism perpetrated by republican and loyalist terrorists.

"We call on all those elected representatives who claim to be democrats to attend Monday morning's event.

"And we would also strongly encourage victims/survivors from across Northern Ireland to attend."

The event starts at 11am.

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