Belfast Telegraph

Aunt grieves for baby Alan, 46 years after he was killed in IRA bomb blast

By Mark Bain

The aunt of the youngest victim of the Troubles has said she still thinks of baby Alan Jack, who died in an IRA bomb blast almost half a century ago.

Little Alan was only five months old when he was killed in the attack in Strabane on July 19, 1972.

The Co Tyrone family have no photographs to remember him by - just mental images of the day his mum took Alan and his brother Robert shopping in the centre of town.

Mavis Clark (72) said the family have never really got over what happened, the bomb blast robbing a mother of a child and an infant of a future.

"I close my eyes and still think about little Alan, even after 46 years," Ms Clark said. "That's all any of us can do now.

"On days like this, when we think back, we're still very hurt and disappointed that nobody was ever convicted or even questioned about the atrocity. And I don't believe we'll ever get any answer.

"I was living in Germany at the time it happened and remember so looking forward to seeing little Alan. I never got to meet him."

Alan is buried at St Patrick's Church of Ireland, Leckpatrick, and Mavis and her family, who live in nearby Ballymagorry, are still regular visitors to the grave, though Alan's mum Barbara and dad Robert have since passed away.

"They hadn't been living in Strabane too long," said Mavis.

"Robert was born and bred in Ballymagorry and Alan's mum Barbara was from Cork.

"They'd originally met in London but had been living in Cork, but they'd come up to stay with my parents for a while and had just moved into a flat in the area.

"They tell me Barbara was pushing the pram past a shop in the town with her older boy Robert (4) beside her when police told her to move away as there was a suspected car bomb. That's when the bomb went off.

"Robert was thrown over and Barbara fell forwards. The glass just missed her but a shard went through the pram and struck little Alan on the head. All I'm left with to remember Alan is images of the day. I don't think they coped too well in the days and weeks that followed," said Mavis.

"They went back to living in Cork to get away from it. There was never any compensation. They had to pay for Alan's funeral themselves. It was a very difficult time and hard to comprehend what had happened."

After the explosion, the IRA claimed it gave an hour's warning. But the RUC said the bomb went off less than 10 minutes after the warning and it was a case of "indiscriminately killing an innocent child and then trying to wriggle out of responsibility for a horrible crime".

Alan was rushed into a medical centre in Strabane but was pronounced dead not long after with severe head injuries.

"No one has ever been convicted or even questioned as far as we know," said Mavis.

"All these years we've had so many questions and not a single answer. They were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

"We can't turn back the clock, so all we can do is remember little Alan and think of the person he could have become, but was never given the chance to."

Belfast Telegraph

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