How survivor of IRA Manchester bomb finally got help from NI victims groups
A survivor of the IRA's 1992 Manchester bombings has revealed how his injuries destroyed his life and left him homeless - before he finally found help from Northern Ireland-based victims groups.
Neil Tattersall was seriously injured when the IRA detonated two bombs in the city on December 3, 1992, injuring 64 people.
He will be one of three people giving their testimonies at Stormont today for an event to mark European Day for Victims of Terrorism.
Austin Stack, whose father Brian, chief prison officer in Portlaoise Prison, died after being shot by the IRA in 1983, will also speak at the event organised by the TUV, as well as Una Moffett, whose brother was murdered by loyalist terrorists.
Mr Tattersall told the Belfast Telegraph the bomb changed his life, turning him from a confident and active person into someone who struggled.
He had been evacuated from the scene, but got caught in the blast amid confusion. "I was sat on a wall but then jumped off the wall and turned around - at that exact moment the bomb went off," he recalled. "I thought the bomb was from the building but I later found out it was on the other side of the wall.
"Glass and debris came crashing down, I just covered my head. I didn't know what to do, then I felt a massive thud in the bottom of my back. I looked up and everyone was running, so that's what I had to do. But after just two or three steps I could not move." Mr Tattersall remembers seeing a pool of blood around his feet and a police officer slapping him, urging him to fight. He was worrying about his fiancee and never getting to see his unborn child.
Although he survived, the incident had a major impact on his family, and he believes his father's death several months later was brought on after he saw what had happened to his son.
Mr Tattersall's physical injuries were treated but the effect of the mental trauma never was. He ended up becoming homeless, and spent a period sleeping underneath Manchester City Airport.
"Nothing is in place in Great Britain to help victims," he said.
The turning point came in 2009 when he got in touch with campaigners for victims, including William Frazer and Jonathan Ganesh of the Docklands Victims Association. He has found most comfort in a friendship with James Leatherbarrow, a former soldier who survived the Ballygawley bus bombing.
"In recent months life has got better. Yes, there are difficult days but the big picture is better - I now have a job and have properly woken up for the first time in 20 years," he said. "We as innocent victims and survivors of terrorism deserve justice, practical help and recognition from the Government. We are the innocent - we are not the perpetrators and we should stop being treated like pariahs."