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'Mario never shed a tear. I knew then that Mario would cope the worst, which has been the case'

Pauline Hegney's husband Karl was shot dead by the UVF as he walked along Belfast's Ormeau Road in October 1991. He was 33 years old.

Karl was targeted because the walk to his home in the Market area had identified him as a Catholic.

The family were refused compensation because he was unemployed. Karl had looked after their four children while Pauline worked in the Europa Hotel. Pauline said:

"Karl was 10, Michael was nine, Mario was seven and Julie-Anne was five.

"I went up and sat at the top of the stairs waiting on (them) getting up. The first one was Julie-Anne.

"I said, 'Did your daddy put you to bed and not take your ribbons out?'

"She said 'No, they're pink and green, and my pyjamas are pink and green so he said it was OK to keep them in because they were the same.'

"She was my only girl and I was fussy about her. She sat down beside me on the top stair. She saw I'd been crying and she said, 'Mummy what's wrong?'

"I said, 'Your wee daddy's away to Heaven.'

"She said, 'Well when is he coming back?'

"I said, 'He's not coming back. His mummy was sad because she didn't have her son so she decided to take him up to Heaven with her.'

"Julie-Anne said, 'Well I hate her. Why did she take my daddy?'

"I said, 'She wanted to have her son with her the way I would want to have you with me.'

"Julie-Anne was crying. I don't think she understood. She was five.

"So then we went into the boys' room. The three boys shared one room.

"I sat the three of them around me and she was on my knee.

"I told them their daddy had gone up to Heaven, that it was very sad but these things happen.

"Karl and Michael and Julie-Anne were sobbing uncontrollably. Mario never shed a tear. I knew then Mario would be the one who would cope the worst, which has been the case.

"They brought Karl's body home on Sunday afternoon. People in morgues worked right through (the weekend) because there were so many killings.

"I had heard somewhere it was better if children could see the person because they got a bit of closure.

"So Karl and Michael and Julie-Anne did see him but Mario wouldn't look at him.

"He stood holding on to the door and said, 'Please don't make me go in'.

"On the Monday morning, Julie-Anne wanted to go to school.

"I thought, 'You can't go to school because your daddy's dead.'

"But she went to school, and then she wouldn't come home because she was waiting on her daddy picking her up. She thought that if she went to school he would come from Heaven and get her."

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph