Belfast Telegraph

Organisation's plea is an insult, says son of man murdered in attack on bar

By Rebecca Black

A man whose father was brutally murdered by the Red Hand Commando (RHC) has described its application to be de-proscribed as an insult.

The book Lost Lives records that the RHC was responsible for 13 murders during the Troubles.

Alan Brecknell said he thinks the organisation shouldn't exist at all any more.

Mr Brecknell, from Cullyhanna in south Armagh, was just seven years old when his father Trevor was murdered in a loyalist gun and bomb attack on December 19, 1975.

"If people want to do community-based work, do it as a community worker," he said.

"You don't have to have a name, you don't have to be associated with a grouping which has a sordid past."

Trevor (32) had been celebrating at Donnelly's bar in Silverbridge after seeing his newly-born daughter in hospital when two loyalist terrorists burst in.

One fired a machine-gun at those inside, and the other threw a bomb into the room.

The savage attack also claimed the lives of Patrick Donnelly (24) and Michael Donnelly (14), as well as seriously injuring six others.

A claim of responsibility for the incident was made by the Red Hand Commando.

The group has since apologised to innocent victims.

But Mr Brecknell said it is up to the victims to decide whether they accept that apology.

"If it's a sincere apology, it's up to individuals to take that on board themselves," he told UTV.

"If someone wants to come to me and say 'I was involved in your father's killing, this is why I was involved in your father's killing', I would give them a hearing and see where that goes."

Meanwhile, Sandra Peake from the WAVE Trauma Centre queried why the Red Hand Commando felt it deserved its "day in the sun", pointing out that its victims are still coming to terms with the group's brutal actions.

"Why do they need to remain in place?

"A bigger service for the victims and survivors would be for them to disband," she said.

"Former paramilitaries wanting a place in the sun will hurt to the core for some people, as they are living in the shadow of that bereavement and injury; not only were they grievously impacted, but they continue to be with the use of that language," she added.

Ms Peake said that the government should be focusing on practical measures for victims of terrorism, such as pension arrangements.

"Messages such as today's bring that very sharply into focus and people continue to struggle with what has happened without meaningful redress," she said.

"Injured people are still waiting on a pension to support their practical and financial needs and bereaved families are waiting on the legacy institutions to be put in place."

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