Parents of murdered soldier tell of anguish
The parents of one of the British soldiers killed by dissident republicans in Antrim last year said their lives had been destroyed by his death.
The mother and father of Patrick Azimkar, who died with Mark Quinsey in a gun attack at Massereene Barracks, told the BBC’s Spotlight programme how their lives have been shattered.
Patrick’s mother, Geraldine, who is originally from Co Londonderry, told the programme, which aired last night, that they didn’t expect their son to be killed in Northern Ireland.
“The peace agreement was when Patrick was nine,” said Geraldine, sitting close to her husband Mehmet.
“And as far as we were concerned, here anyway in England, peace was holding very well and things were settled and so I didn't have any worries about him going to Northern Ireland at all.”
The 21-year-old, from north London, was posted to Antrim in 2008.
The soldiers from the Royal Engineers were shot dead just hours before they were due to deploy to Afghanistan.
Real IRA gunmen opened fire as they and other soldiers collected a pizza delivery at the barracks entrance on March 7, 2009.
“If we'd lost Patrick in Afghanistan, of course it's not worse, we'd still lose him and we'd still have the same devastation,” said Geraldine.
“But it's just so difficult to get your head round. And also why and how? What's the point? What was the purpose?”
Patrick’s father described how he tortures himself with questions about the double murder and its senselessness.
“I mean what did they gain by destroying our lives and his life and the other boy's life?” asked Mehmet.
“I keep asking the same question to myself. What the hell did they gain? Did they gain anything?”
The soldier’s parents also revealed that Patrick really loved Northern Ireland and wanted to stay after his career in the Army.
The programme put the Azimkars’ questions to supporters of dissident republican groups and also examined whether dissident support is growing in some areas.