Mum of loyalist murder victim Service in plea not to forget past victims
A widow whose son was murdered by loyalist paramilitaries nearly 20 years ago has told the government victims are being forgotten amid an impasse in addressing the legacy of the Troubles.
Brian Service (35) was killed in October 1998 as he walked to his parents' home in Ardoyne, north Belfast.
In a heartfelt open letter to the Secretary of State, his mother Ann said her family has been able to learn no more about the circumstances of his death since the day he died.
The construction worker was gunned down by loyalist killers who shot him several times in the head and back - six months after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement.
Ann appealed to James Brokenshire to ensure the institutions proposed in the Stormont House Agreement to deal with the legacy of the past do not "once again fail the hundreds of families" of murder victims. Mrs Service, whose husband Davy died four years ago without finding out the truth, said she does not have time to wait any longer to have the case reinvestigated.
Proposals signed-off in the 2014 Stormont House Agreement - including a new independent investigatory unit, a truth recovery body and an oral archive - are still on ice due to a small number of outstanding political disputes.
In her letter, Mrs Service stated that Brian (right), the second of her three boys, had gone to see his brother on the night he was killed.
"He wouldn't have worried about walking home because we were told we had peace by then," she wrote. "When they told me he was dead I just wanted to lie down on the ground where he died alone to be close to him even for a moment. I am telling you all this so that you know that Brian was a real person because after his murder that's not the way he was treated.
"It was as if he never really existed as a person and that his life and death did not matter.
"The police hardly seemed to bother with an investigation. He was dead and that was it.
"I complained to the Police Ombudsman but I have no idea if his case will be looked at in my lifetime."
The Police Ombudsman has already said that it will take more than 20 years to get through the current cases.
However, Mrs Service says that she can't wait that long, adding: "I don't have time."
Her letter continues: "I do not think for a minute that I am any different from hundreds of others who have not seen anything approaching justice for the murder of their loved one.
"It is three years since the Stormont House Agreement.
"There is to be an Historical Investigations Unit to look at unsolved cases and an Information Retrieval Commission for those who want information rather than trying to get prosecutions.
"Secretary of State can you assure me that Brian's case will be looked at properly this time?
"Can you assure me that they will have the time and resources to do the job properly this time?
"Can you assure all the others who feel they have been forgotten because their loved ones murder made headlines only for a day that their loss will be acknowledged with respect?
"My husband Davy died four years ago knowing no more about what happened to our son than we did when they came to our house at 7am that day to tell us he was dead.
"Please don't let us be forgotten all over again."
In response to the letter, Mr Brokenshire said his upcoming public consultation on legacy issues would provide a way forward.
He said: "The government believes that the Stormont House Agreement proposals represent the best means of addressing Northern Ireland's past in ways that will be fair, balanced and proportionate.
"We are obliged to move forward so that victims and survivors are able to get the progress they have been seeking for such a long time."