Belfast Telegraph

'Still a sense of fear when I return'

By Claire Williamson

A man who survived being shot four times in the 1994 Loughinisland massacre has told why he still feels a "sense of intimidation" in Northern Ireland.

Originally from Drumaness, father-of-two Colm Smyth now lives in Cork.

When the shooting happened Colm was a student in Limerick. After graduating in 1996 he made a "conscious decision" that Northern Ireland wasn't for him.

He said: "I've taken my kids on holidays over the years but I always feel a sense of intimidation.

"A sense of fear, because you can sense, once you've lived out of the country for so long, once you return you can desperately sense the two sides of the community and you can sense the tension."

On one trip close to the Twelfth Colm said his children were fascinated by the flags and bunting being flown, but it had a very different effect on him.

"As a Catholic being up there my kids didn't feel it, but I felt really intimidated because they don't know the history of Northern Ireland, they just thought it was mad everything was coloured," he said.

"That is the reason I never went back, because those little things just felt like I would never be 100% safe and never escape it."

Instead, Colm made a life as a marketing manager in Cork.

"I was breaking away from my community and going somewhere where no one knew me and I could just be Colm Smyth, rather than the guy shot in Loughinisland. It's taken me a long time to do that full circle where I am in a better place now, and I'm happier to be more open about the fact that I was that guy," he said.

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