Belfast Telegraph

One woman's story of loss, grief and racism in Belfast

By Bob Malcolm

A CROSS-community worker has self-published a book detailing her experience of sectarianism and racism in Northern Ireland and telling the story of how the murder of her father by the IRA has affected her family.

Jayne Olorunda, a project administration officer at Seaview Enterprises, in north Belfast, wrote the book "Legacy" as a memorial to her father, Nigerian born, Max Olorunda, who was killed by a Provisional IRA incendiary device which detonated prematurely in Dunmurry on a train from Ballymena to Belfast in January 1980. An accountant, he was just 35 when he died.

The PIRA had planted two further devices of a similar nature on different trains but both were successfully destroyed in controlled explosions.

"Legacy" details how the bombing didn't just kill Jayne's father but seriously affected her mother's health and led to her having to remain in Northern Ireland while one of her two sisters fled to England because of racism here.

Jayne said: "This is my family story, from my parents meeting, and coming here, and the death of my dad – the book is a legacy to my dad and my mum – she has had a dreadful few years."

Jayne says hers is a book for innocent victims.

Her father came to Northern Ireland after studying accountancy at Newcastle in England. His choice was Belfast, and the plan was to only come to Northern Ireland for a few years, but then he met Jayne's mother Gabrielle.

"My father's death took a heavy toll on my mother – she was a nurse in the Troubles and she knew about the bombs, bullets and bodies."

She said one of her two sisters left Northern Ireland because of racist slurs and intimidation.

Jayne said: "We are Catholics, but when we lived in a nationalist area and they found out our father had been killed by the IRA we weren't welcome, and when we lived in Protestant areas we were targeted for being Catholic."

She said that the family had moved 17 times in a ten year period because of intimidation.

"Things are definitely different now, no one swears at you in the street, or tells you to go home, or spits on you. "It's definitely a different environment.

"I have lived here all my life, I was once told I couldn't have been born here because of the colour of my skin. If it weren't for mum I'd be long gone, I wouldn't have settled here if dad was still alive.

"It has been a nightmare but it's getting better, my story is just one story – but everyone has a unique story to tell and it's a memorial to my dad."

Legacy by Jayne Olorunda is available from Amazon and Lulu.

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