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People who killed my father were pure evil, says son of depot worker killed in 1993 UFF attack

 

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Mark Rodgers

Mark Rodgers

Police at the scene of the shooting at the Kennedy Way depot in 1993

Police at the scene of the shooting at the Kennedy Way depot in 1993

Mark Rodgers

The son of a Belfast council worker murdered by the UFF in the days that followed the Shankill bomb has said he never wants to see such hatred on our streets again.

Mark Rodgers (31) was only six years-old when his father - also Mark - was one of two council employees killed by loyalist gunmen at the west Belfast depot where he worked.

His dad was aged 28 when the UFF targeted the Kennedy Way site on October 26, 1993 - three days after the Shankill bomb. He had been sheltering behind a lorry.

His colleague James Cameron (54) also died in the attack. Mr Cameron's wife worked at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast at the time and had treated victims of the Shankill bomb. Both men were Catholics,

"I was only six-years-old when my father was murdered," Mark told the Belfast Telegraph. "It had been my birthday two days before.

"Ever since that day my birthday has been hard. On one hand, yes, it's your birthday and people want to celebrate, but I always know that just two days later it'll be the anniversary of my father's murder."

And he admitted this year - the 25th anniversary - has been particularly upsetting.

"A lot of the media focus has been on the Shankill bomb and next we'll have Greysteel. But there were others who died, other families who suffered and we have to remember that.

"There was so much hatred on the streets. And while there are still walls between some, there's not between normal people. The people who did these things weren't normal. The people who did this to my family are absolutely evil - pure, pure evil.

"My dad had never judged anyone by religion. Mostly all I have is stories of him. My sister Leanne has even less. She was only three."

Today Shankill bomber Thomas Begley will be commemorated at an event in Milltown cemetery and Mark called that "unsympathetic" to the victims.

"Every five years we hold a memorial service. That's our own personal thing. Anyone is entitled to remember a loved one," he said. "What angers me is people who are supposed to represent political parties getting involved in commemorating the sort of people who brought this trauma to people like me and my family.

"It's unsympathetic to the victims of the Shankill bomb and the families of the victims in the wake of that day.

"Representatives of political parties never seem to see the suffering of people like me, like my mother, my sister and families like ours.

"None came to remember my father. Instead they seem more interested in remembering the so-called brave volunteers who put all these families through hell. And it was hell - just ask my mother.

"But in a way I like to think my dad's death paved the way for peace. The ceasefire started the next year and I like to think my father's murder helped politicians realise that the brutality we were all being forced to live through had to end.

"My family has lived through a terrible, terrible thing. Our children need to read about months like October 1993, see the trauma it caused and never allow it to happen again.

"All people want is to live free from the hatred and brutality that robbed me of my father."

Belfast Telegraph