Belfast Telegraph

Who in the UVF ordered my father's killing?

The son of a man killed by the UVF in 1974 wants the "men in shadows" to come clean on the Rose & Crown bomb atrocity: "It would be part of a healing process for us all"

By Amanda Ferguson

The son of a man murdered by the UVF 40 years ago has spoken publicly for the first time about the tragedy to call on the loyalist group to reveal who ordered the bombing that killed his father.

On May 2, 1974 a blast at the Rose & Crown bar on the Ormeau Road killed six men and injured another 18 people.

One of the dead was Paul Doherty's father Jim, a 59-year-old storeman at the Royal Victoria Hospital.

Four teenagers, aged 16 and 17, were convicted for the bombing, but Paul wants the men who directed them to admit their role.

An Historical Enquiries Team (HET) report, seen by the Belfast Telegraph, reveals the original target was Mooney's Bar in Cromac Street.

On the day a UDR checkpoint caused the four teenagers to turn the car they were driving and they were then ordered to hit "any bar" on the Ormeau Road.

Paul, a 47-year-old medical equipment distributor and GAA coach, said: "It should be in the public domain who directed those four kids to bomb Mooney's and, subsequently, the Rose & Crown.

"I don't want them to go to prison, I want them to explain themselves. I am not talking about them confessing their sins, but I think we need to hear who it was.

"For me that would give me complete closure on it. I know there are men in the shadows who directed this and I want them named, not shamed, and to admit what they did.

"Whether they regret it or not is of no relevance to me. I presume and hope they do. It might even be a cathartic experience for them.

"It would be part of a healing process for us all."

Paul, the youngest of seven children, says it continues to impact his entire family.

"My mother Eileen, who passed away in 2000, never recovered from it," he said.

"She was obviously grieving and then, about two years after my father died, she took a massive stroke and was virtually incapacitated from that."

Appeal for a deal on the legacy of the past

As the inter-party talks reach a critical point, Paul is urging the Stormont, British and Irish governments to strike a deal for victims of the conflict that takes into consideration what justice means for people of varying opinions.

The father-of-two says he would back "a Truth Commission, an amnesty and a full disclosure of truth and reconciliation".

"I want to know who ordered the bomb,” he added. “It is personally important for me in order that I can, with some sense of achievement, say to my children this is what happens when you have politicians and bad men who do X, Y and Z.

“From the HET report the tragedy of it is the Rose & Crown bomb could have not happened. The boys left the Donegall Pass with instructions to go and bomb Mooney’s pub in Cromac Street. Fate and luck and all those things came into play.

"It’s not about revenge - altruistically it would be nice to improve society and try to move on.”

I have no hatred toward the kids who did it

Paul Doherty in his own words...

“I remember being woken by the bomb at the Rose & Crown going off.

“We were only 300-400 yards away in Fitzroy Avenue and it was a reasonably regular occurrence at that time in Belfast. Another bomb.

“I had no idea of the fallout that was to happen. My mum Eileen was on night duty as a nurse so some of my older sisters were babysitting.

“I thought nothing more about it, went back to sleep and my next clear memory is waking up in the spare room, not the room I went to sleep in.

“The room was full of people and the parish priest was there. He was the one who told me my father Jim had been killed.

“I don’t really remember any emotion from the time, as events took over, but I remember a little bit about the funeral.

“There was some issue around the Deramore Arms as the funeral cortege went up the Ormeau Road to the Holy Rosary Church and there was some protesters trying to create something.

“There are newspaper reports about people having to intervene in that incident.

“The next memory I have is at the graveside in Milltown and I was still really in shock. I hadn’t come to terms with it.

“I remember being utterly astounded at my eldest sister Carmel crying as the coffin was lowered into the ground. It started to sink in then.

“When the bomb happened, it was just before the Ulster Workers Strike and the Dublin-Monaghan bombings, so they dominated that period in our history.

“This multiple tragedy has never been spoken about, never been discussed and probably because there is an issue of closure with the Dublin-Monaghan bombings where as there were four boys arrested and charged with the bombing in the Rose & Crown.

“I suppose from the point of view from the authorities think it is kind of a done deal, sealed off, closed, that’s done.

“I feel no hatred or ill will to the boys. They were kids.

“When I was an older teenager I did have hatred and I did want revenge and I thought about that a lot I just didn’t know how to go about it, thankfully.

“There was other things that impacted my life as well, like Pat Finucane’s murder. He was a friend of mine, I played football with Pat.

“I also worked in a company on the Donegall Road and the accountant there, Ben Hughes, was shot one night coming out of work.

“I left virtually the day after that.

"Ben and I were probably the only two Catholics in the firm - but for a half an hour that could have been me...

“I want the men who directed the Rose & Crown bombing to admit their role.

“Whatever about the futility of the bomb itself, it would be futile to look for a reciprocal, vindictive prison sentence. It wouldn’t serve any person, I wouldn’t think.

“I want people to now my father was killed along with five other men and that ought not to be forgotten.

“On the 40th anniversary earlier this year we unveiled a plaque and had a commemoration event.

“It’s about remembering, not forgetting, but also shining a spotlight on why it happened.

“My life is now a million miles away from the Ormeau Road and all those memories.

“I will always have a fondness for the Ormeau Road and because my dad was killed there, there will always be a connection to the area.”

As told to Amanda Ferguson

Belfast Telegraph

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