Belfast Telegraph

Daughter of brain-damaged IRA bomb survivor to reveal family's plight at event for terror victims

By Rebecca Black

The daughter of a man left with life-changing injuries following the IRA's Docklands bombing said her family will have to sell his home to pay for his care.

Zaoui Berezag (77) was left with profound brain damage after the 1996 blast close to London's financial district, which killed shopkeepers Inan Bashir and John 'JJ' Jeffries.

His wife Gemma passed away in May 2016, aged 58, reportedly through sheer exhaustion after being his main carer for 20 years.

Now he is living in a care home, receiving 24/7 attention.

His daughter Rajaa remains deeply involved with his care.

The dance graduate leads dance and exercise classes at his care home to help both her father and the other residents in the tight-knit Tower Hamlets community.

Today she will speak at an event at Stormont to mark the European Day of Remembrance of Victims of Terrorism.

She told the Belfast Telegraph that her father had outlived the 10-year life expectancy his doctors gave him after the bomb.

Rajaa was just nine years old at the time of the blast and helped her mum to care for her dad.

"She didn't have a life for 22 years," she said.

"I was so little, I didn't really know what was going on at the time, there was so much going on politically, I have only learned so much now from research.

"It is heartbreaking to know that the men that did it only got two years in prison."

However, Ms Berezag said her family would prefer the government helped with her father's care, rather than get justice.

She is unhappy at the lack of progress in securing compensation for Libyan-sponsored IRA terrorism. Libyan-supplied Semtex was used in the attack at Canary Wharf in the Docklands.

"He is like a child in an adult's body. It's just so sad, I was teaching him again," Rajaa said.

"The campaign for compensation seems like a lost cause at the moment, they are trying to get compensation from all avenues including Gaddafi (the former Libyan dictator) because he sold the Semtex, but the government are not doing much to help to be honest.

"They see it as my father got his compensation, so that's it. But that compensation has gone, he still needs care.

"He has outlived the compensation years.

"They gave him 10 years' life expectancy, he has gone 22 years and the way that I am looking after him, he is going to go another 22 years. And the only thing we have left is his home, which will eventually be sold to pay for his care."

She said she is nervous about speaking at Stormont today, but is determined to deliver a message of hope and the importance of keeping positive.

"At the end of the day it happened, and there is nothing anyone can do it to take it back," she said. "I have just had to learn to live with the situation."

Also speaking at the event will be Anthony O'Reilly, whose teenage sister Geraldine was murdered in a loyalist bombing in the border village of Belturbet, Co Cavan in 1972, and former RUC officer Paul Donley who was injured in a landmine blast in 1984.

TUV leader Jim Allister will host the sixth annual event to mark the day in the Long Gallery at Stormont this morning.

"With so-called legacy issues a central part of political debate at the current time and republican efforts to rewrite the past in overdrive, I believe it is important that the voice of innocent victims is heard directly," he said.

"This makes this year's event all the more important."

The event will also include the official launch of an exhibition of memorial quilts by groups across Northern Ireland. Each patch in the quilts commemorates an innocent victim of terrorism.

Belfast Telegraph

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