Belfast Telegraph

Omagh bombing anniversary: Survivor in plea for politicians to end the impasse and give children a future

Cara McGillion
Cara McGillion
Her mum Donna Marie
Donna Marie wearing a face mask at remembrance service in 2000
Cara singing
The aftermath of the bombing
Donna Deeney

By Donna Deeney

A woman who suffered horrific injuries in the Omagh bomb and whose chances of survival were rated at below 20% has called for a return to Stormont so such an atrocity can never happen again.

Donna Marie McGillion made the plea after a conversation with her daughter Cara, who was born in 2001 and has penned a moving song about the massacre called Empty Promises.

Donna Marie was just a week away from getting married to her husband Garry when they were both caught in the blast and suffered horrendous burns, which have left a permanent reminder of their suffering.

Donna Marie said that unless the political stalemate is sorted, the huge sacrifice made by survivors and victims of atrocities such as Omagh will be lost.

She said: "My daughter Cara gets so frustrated and can't understand why there is no Stormont and can see the impact of that. She is very much into her music and writes her songs and is concerned about the education budget and the arts and music.

"She said to me: 'They need to stop putting divisions between us because I don't hate anybody'. So I would urge the politicians to reflect on the 20th anniversary of Omagh and remember what really is important and not to go back there.

"One of the biggest sacrifices made by the victims and survivors in the Good Friday Agreement - which I fully support - was the release of prisoners.

"I don't think that should be in vain, so I would urge the politicians to return to Stormont before there is another Omagh.

"They are just driving wedges between the two communities that there's no need for. As it says in Cara's song, the children are the future, and she is 100% right.

"Neither she nor her brother Cormac were born when the bomb exploded but they have lived with it all their lives, and have coped so well."

One way Cara dealt with her feelings was through her music.

"I wanted to write about something close to my heart," she said.

"I listened to the stories from my mummy and daddy and the other families."

Cara is to sing at a memorial event for the bombing on Sunday as part of the Omagh Community Youth Choir. They will sing another song written for the event.

It will also feature in a UTV documentary about the atrocity which is to be broadcast on the anniversary of the bombing, August 15, at 10.40pm. Donna Marie said she will attend this Sunday's remembrance service, which will be the first time she has done so in 15 years.

She added: "I have chosen not to go to the remembrance services since the fifth anniversary, but I understand why other people do go every year.

"I will go to the one on Sunday because I think it will provide closure and because Cara is singing in the choir.

"I have refused to be a victim and have always considered myself a survivor because I will not let the people who planted the bomb define me.

"There was a time when I did get angry and I did ask: 'Why me?' But I know it is a question that can never be answered.

"Both Garry and I agreed that if we got angry then the bombers got another victim, but I refuse to be a victim.

"Plus we didn't want Cara and Cormac to see us angry and maybe get involved in something they didn't need to be involved in.

"There is not a day that goes by that I don't think about the bereaved, especially at this time, and there is an element of guilt that we made it through and they didn't.

"There have been times when I really did struggle to get through things but then something happens that shows me God spared me for a reason.

"My faith has actually grown stronger over the past 20 years and I don't blame Him for what happened.

"In my eyes, God made the world and it was man who made the mess of it, and it was men who planted the bomb in Omagh."

Belfast Telegraph


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