Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

IRA tried to write my mum's story. I'm here to put it straight

Daughter of woman shot dead by Provos as an alleged informer after being held 15 days speaks out as battle for justice gathers pace

By Suzanne Breen

Published 18/05/2016

Shauna Moreland, whose mother Caroline was abducted and murdered by the IRA in June 1994
Shauna Moreland, whose mother Caroline was abducted and murdered by the IRA in June 1994
Caroline Moreland
The Belfast Telegraph reported last October that Stakeknife could have murdered 40 people in total

A daughter has described the emotional meeting she had with the elderly woman who found her murdered mother's body lying on a lonely border road.

Shauna Moreland also revealed how police had let the body of 34-year-old Caroline lie on the roadside near Roslea, Co Fermanagh, for 13 hours because they feared the IRA had booby-trapped it.

The heartbreaking delay was also caused by the fact that half of Caroline's body was on the northern side of the border and the rest was in the South, leading to lengthy talks between the RUC and Garda over which jurisdiction her murder fell.

In a powerful interview with the Belfast Telegraph, Shauna - who was only 10 when her mother was murdered as an alleged informer in July 1994 - described the horrific details of her killing.

"She was taken from west Belfast and brought to Fermanagh in the boot of a car where she was held for 15 days," she said.

"She was killed, on her knees and blindfolded, with tissue under the blindfold. She was shot three times in the side of the head. I've pictured what happened in my mind 50,000 times."

Last year Shauna met the woman who found her mother's body when she was out walking her dog at 7am that summer morning.

"The lady was bed-bound and in her 80s," she said. "It was very emotional for me. I brought her a bunch of flowers and I apologised to her for what she had to see on the road. It devastated our lives, but that woman was traumatised too."

Caroline, a single mother-of-three from west Belfast, was shot dead by the Provos six weeks before the 1994 ceasefire for allegedly working as an informer.

Her family believe she was a victim of Freddie Scappaticci - named in the media as the high-ranking British agent codenamed Stakeknife - and are seeking truth and justice through the courts.

The Morelands maintain that the authorities had ample opportunity to step in and save Caroline's life, but chose to let her die in order to protect a more senior and valuable alleged informer.

The last time Shauna saw her mummy was at home ironing. "I miss her so much," she said.

"I'm a chef and on Mother's Day I stand in the kitchen cooking food for God knows how many mothers.

"It makes me sad and angry that I never had the chance to cook a meal for my own mother."

Shauna explained how her two big brothers, then aged 13 and 14, also grieved for Caroline but that she felt her loss differently.

"There are things for which daughters need mothers and she wasn't there, like buying my first bra and getting my first period," she said.

"I had my grannies and my aunts, but it wasn't the same. Even now I feel that void. I'm not able to buy her presents. For 22 years on Mother's Day and on her birthday, all I can do is bring flowers to her grave.

"On my 18th and 21st birthday parties I looked around the room at all the people who were gathered to celebrate with me, but the most important person wasn't there."

It is not just on the big occasions that 31-year-old Shauna misses her mother most.

"The smaller stuff is even harder," she said. "I called in on a friend the other day as she was making her mummy a cup of tea and it hit me that I'd never done that for my mother. I wouldn't have a clue how she liked her tea, if she took milk or sugar.

"I get jealous when I see other people with their mummies. I had mine for just 10 years. She's been dead twice as long as she was with me."

Shauna also told this newspaper how Caroline could not have been a better mother.

"She was warm and affectionate," she said. "We always knew that we were loved. We felt safe with her, like nothing or nobody could harm us.

"Other mothers can complain a lot about their kids, but mummy loved being with us.

"She would have shouted at us for making a mess or being boisterous, but my strongest memories are of a house filled with fun and laughter.

"During the summer holidays she wouldn't have the money to take us to Spain or Turkey, but she organised countless days out. We went on the bus to Newcastle or the train to Crawfordsburn. She packed sandwiches and took us to the Ulster Museum.

"On Christmas Eve she had her rituals. She'd put a Christmas film on the TV and make hot chocolate for us. Then we'd be allowed to open two presents each - it was always the selection boxes and the pyjamas."

When Caroline was abducted by the IRA relatives told the children she was in hospital.

"She had a difficult birth with me - her spine crumbled and she had metal plates inserted - and she was in and out of hospital regularly, so we didn't doubt what we were told," said Shauna.

"But I remember the phone ringing and my granny and daddy going upstairs afterwards to talk to my brother. I heard him crying, and he never cried. When they told me mummy was dead; I was hysterical."

Shauna remembers being brought to the wake in her granny's home. "Mummy had auburn hair and her curls tumbled around her face," she said. "The woman in the coffin had her hair pulled back, so I said to myself: 'That's not my mummy'. I tried to escape from her death, to blank it out, rather than deal with it.

"I told myself that mummy had just gone away on a wee break because she was tired of my brother and I fighting. I convinced myself she wasn't dead, that it was a dream and I'd wake to see her standing over the bed saying: 'Ready for school?'"

After talking to relatives, Shauna and her brothers decided not to go to their mother's funeral. "I still don't know if it was the right call," she said. "I go to the funeral of relatives of friends and say to myself: 'I'm at the funeral of someone I barely knew and I wasn't at my mum's'."

Shauna's one consolation is that the IRA did not try to hide Caroline's body. "At least they left mummy on the road. They didn't 'disappear' her like Jean McConville," she said.

But Shauna is tormented by thoughts of the 15 days the IRA held Caroline. "I've gone over what could have happened and I probably imagine it 100 times worse than it was," she said. "The inquest found nothing to suggest she was tortured or assaulted, but they had her two weeks - they hardly did nothing."

In her 20s Shauna started to Google her mother's name. "The words that constantly came up were 'IRA informer'," she said. "I hated that because it was the label the IRA had created to try to excuse or lighten murdering her.

"Caroline Moreland wasn't just an IRA informer, she was a mother, a daughter and a sister. They tried to write her story, but I am here now to tell what they omitted."

Shauna is particularly proud that her mother, along with her grannies, raised thousands of pounds for muscular dystrophy.

And although she grew up in a working-class nationalist area, she was never taunted about her mother. "I wasn't filled with hate against the IRA, but when I heard people condemn the British or loyalists for what they did, I'd think: 'My own ones hurt me more'," Shauna explained.

"Some media have wanted to steer me down the road of battering only the IRA, and I won't do that. The State was equally to blame for my mother's death. It made the bullet, the IRA fired it."

Shauna has been told that she has a similar temperament to her mother. "That makes me happy, but I think mummy was more confident," she said.

"She was a very strong woman. If she walked into a room, people knew she was there. She's my role model. I find the strength to fight for my mother from my mother."

Many bereaved relatives pose for media photographs holding a picture of their loved one. Shauna refuses to do that. "It's too painful," she said. "I don't want to hold a photo, I want to hold her. I want to give her the biggest hug in the world and never, ever let her go."

Belfast Telegraph

Read More

From Belfast Telegraph