Belfast Telegraph

Parents of ‘forgotten’ IRA victim in appeal for justice

By Victoria O'Hara

The grieving parents of an Australian lawyer shot dead by the IRA in Holland 20 years ago have said their son was a “forgotten victim” who has never received justice.

Yesterday the family of Stephen Melrose — who was gunned down in front of his wife while on holiday in 1990 — made an emotional visit to Stormont in a bid to try and “find answers about his murder”.

Mr Melrose, who was 28 at the time, was travelling with his wife of nine months, his friend Nick Spanos and his girlfriend when the two men were gunned down in the town of Roermond.

The British registration on the car led the IRA to believe they were soldiers.

As part of a three-day trip to the province, the 28-year-old’s parents Roy and Beverley Melrose and two sisters met with Ulster Unionist MLA David McNarry.

During the meeting they discussed the current justice process in Northern Ireland.

They made the journey from Queensland as part of an Australian documentary into the anniversary of the murders.

The journalists producing the programme had requested a meeting with Sinn Fein’s Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness or Gerry Adams, but were refused.

Mr Melrose’ sister Helen Jackson (50) said that “spoke volumes”, and added they still feel anger about the murder.

“We feel that, basically, justice was never done,” she told the Belfast Telegraph.

“The people who killed Stephen are walking the street, living life, like us. How can that happen? We are just wondering how the system works, that that can be allowed to happen.

“Stephen was a lawyer, he deserves justice, everybody does.”

His father Roy Melrose (80) said: “We just wanted to find out if we could get any answers as to why the murderers of our son were let off.

“We feel that time heals a lot. We’ve looked at it that our son is a hero, that helps us a lot, thinking that way. He is a hero. I think there seems to be a lot of forgotten victims.”

Before travelling to Northern Ireland the family visited the murder scene in Holland for the first time.

They described it as being both “emotional but helpful” in dealing with their grief.

“The last 20 years have been a real journey for the whole family. There is always something missing. You learn to live with it—but there is a gap,” his sister said. “I do feel that we have got some closure. The thing is, people are still walking free. What Stephen stood for — justice and fairness — hasn’t happened, but I do think we have had a bit of closure by seeing and speaking to people.

“I think that it has helped and brought us some kind of closure. It has been difficult.”

Protestant victims’ campaigner Willie Frazer, who also attended the meeting, said it helped to offer support.

“They couldn’t understand why people who were involved in terrorism could end up in Government,” Mr Frazer said.

“But we have reassured them that we will continue to |support them in bringing them justice.”

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