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Son of man killed by IRA urged Martin McGuinness to apologise to victims

By Claire O'Boyle

A methodist minister whose father was murdered by the IRA wrote to Martin McGuinness before he died, asking him to apologise to victims.

Rev Dr David Clements, whose RUC Reservist father Billy was murdered more than 30 years ago in an RUC station ambush, wrote to the former Deputy First Minister in January. "I want you to know how important that would be to so many who have suffered terribly at the hands of the republican movement," he wrote.

Billy Clements died alongside a colleague after an attack on Ballygawley Police Station by members of the East Tyrone Brigade of the IRA in December 1985. His gun was taken from his body and was used in a number of other murders.

In his letter, Rev Clements told Mr McGuinness that he continued to pray for him during his illness.

"The present crisis notwithstanding, we owe you much gratitude for the part you have played in recent decades," he added. But he went on to say that the refusal of Mr McGuinness to express regret for his time in the IRA or for what the IRA did "grieves me deeply".

While Rev Clements acknowledged the political and personal difficulties there would be for Mr McGuinness to "speak the words" he asked him to, he asked him to "consider writing them down to be released at some time in the future perhaps after you and others concerned have gone into the presence of God".

Rev Clements does not know if Mr McGuinness ever read the letter, which closed with "I wish you well and will pray for you and your family in the days ahead".

Rev Clements has worked for over 20 years with the WAVE Trauma Centre in support of victims of the Troubles - including the Disappeared and the campaign for a pension for the severely injured, yet to be delivered.

Speaking after talks to restore Stormont ended in stalemate, Rev Clements said victims and survivors face an uncertain future.

He added: "After so much suffering over so many years, it's simply not good enough for victims and survivors to be told once again that they will have to wait for promises and commitments to be fulfilled."

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