Belfast Telegraph

Justice denied as crusading dad of boy killed in 1976 UVF bomb dies

By Annamay McNally

A Co Tyrone man who campaigned for justice after his young son was killed by a loyalist bomb in Dungannon more than 40 years ago has died.

Norbert McCaughey, known as Nory, passed away peacefully on Sunday surrounded by his family.

James McCaughey was only 13 when he died after the UVF left a car bomb outside the Hillcrest Bar on the town's Donaghmore Road on St Patrick's Day in 1976.

James died along with best friend Patrick Barnard, also 13, and two local men, Andrew Small and Joseph Kelly.

Only one person was convicted over the atrocity linked to the notorious Glenanne gang. UVF terrorist Garnet James Busby confessed in 1980 and was sentenced to life.

Earlier this year Busby was linked to a Belfast community group.

Mr McCaughey campaigned tirelessly for justice in the case. In an interview ahead of the 40th anniversary of the bombing, he said his boy's death hurt as much then as when it happened.

Speaking of his wife, who predeceased him, Mr McCaughey said: "Molly and me never celebrated a March 17th since then.

"When James died we had a hard time, but Fr Kelly was a wonderful priest. He never left us and he would have come into the house just like an ordinary person. Fr Kelly told me that, no matter what corner I turn, he (James) will be at my shoulder. And he has been there, over the years.

"Even though I'm 80 years of age and Jim has been gone for 40 years, it is just like yesterday. His death is something that never leaves me, it is still raw."

At the time he described Molly as "a rock" - the couple were married for 48 years before her death. Recalling their life together as "great times", he said the loss of their son was a heartbreak they both shouldered.

"Me and Molly used to talk about what he (James) would be like if he hadn't died. We went to Lourdes together four or five times and James was always there with us. And the Dungannon people have never forgotten about James and the others who died."

Paying tribute to Mr McCaughey as a "tireless and passionate campaigner for justice", Dungannon SDLP councillor Denise Mullen, who last week was appointed to the Northern Ireland Victims and Survivors Forum, extended her sympathy to his family.

"We need accountability in the Hillcrest Bar bomb case, just as we do in so many other cases where loved ones are fighting for years to have truth and justice for their sons, daughters, fathers and mothers," Ms Mullen said.

"It is getting to the stage now in the process where family members are coming to an age where they are passing the search for truth on to the next generation, and that is simply not acceptable."

Alan Brecknell of the Pat Finucane Centre, and a fellow Victims and Survivors Forum member, said: "Hopefully the minds of those involved in political negotiations will be focused by the terrible tragedy of Nory's passing, before more people die not knowing the truth about the deaths of their loved ones.

"Another man has gone to his grave never knowing that truth. Incidentally, more than half of those who died in the Troubles died before 1976, so that is the age profile of those left behind. Sadly, families are in the unfortunate position of having to pass on their campaigns to the younger generations."

Mr McCaughey is survived by his children Peter, Teresa, Siobhan, Martin, Rhoda, Patrick, Brenda and Helen. His funeral Mass will take place at St Patrick's Church in Dungannon tomorrow, with burial in St Malachy's Churchyard in Edendork.

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