Belfast Telegraph

IRA victims and families speak up about Troubles legacy

Three victims of IRA terror attacks have spoken of how they have been forced to live with the awful legacy of the Northern Ireland Troubles.

In emotional scenes at an event in Stormont to mark European Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Terrorism, the three men shared their harrowing experiences and spoke out about the lack of justice for the innocent victims of the conflict.

Noel Downey, who was seriously injured in a car bomb explosion on June 10 1990, told the event that while someone was jailed for his attempted murder he was released early under the Good Friday Agreement.

"There is no release from my injuries," said Mr Downey.

He was getting into his car outside a bar in Lisnaskea when a booby trap bomb exploded.

"I remember the white flash. I was blind and deaf for a period which seemed to be ages.

"I reached over in my blindness and opened the door. I got out of the car and attempted to walk. I kept falling, falling down and falling down. I couldn't understand why. I kept getting up and trying to walk and I kept falling down again. It was only later I realised why. My left leg was gone ... (it) was lying in the back seat of the car.

"There on the pavement were locals and friends. Those men kept me alive until the ambulance arrived. I am indebted for what they did. I remember sitting there on the pavement covered in petrol looking back at my car as they worked on me, trying to keep me awake.

"Life was changed forever.

"There was someone prosecuted and imprisoned for my attempted murder and for membership of the Provisional IRA, but like so many others he was released under the terms of the Belfast Agreement. There is no release from my injuries."

Mr Downey said he wants Sinn Fein and the IRA to "cease the justification of the murder of my friends and attempted murder of me".

He also called for a special pension for innocent victims who were seriously injured during the Troubles.

Also speaking at the event, which was organised by TUV leader Jim Allister and attended by DUP leader Arlene Foster, was David Kelly, whose father Patrick, a Private in the armed forces, was murdered in December 1983.

Private Kelly was shot dead without warning by an IRA murder-kidnap gang in Derrada Wood, Ballinamore, Co Leitrim at the age of 36. He left behind a wife and four sons.

Mr Kelly said he confronted Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness six years ago and asked for help in finding his father's killers, but was told "to move on".

"The men who killed my father are still walking around, free men. It is very hard to take given the effect it had on our family," said Mr Kelly.

He said Martin McGuinness visited his home town while campaigning to become President of Ireland in 2011.

"I felt compelled to confront him. 'You want to be president of Ireland - can you assist me in finding out who murdered my father?'

"He told me it was time to move on. He said that to my face.

"My father was doing his duty, providing for a young family, gave his life for his country.

"It seems like there is a lack of willingness to pursue the perpetrators. I am determined to keep speaking up for him and keep pushing away.

"The people who killed him would like him to be a footnote in the history books, but I say different."

Ken Funston, whose brother Ronald, 28, was murdered by the IRA at the family farm near Pettigo 33 years ago on March 13 1984, accused the British and Irish governments of letting victims down.

"The British government have thrown their hands up, the Irish government don't want to know and two groups of terrorists, loyalist and republican, are laughing. They got away with it.

"How can we move on?"

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