Son of Orangeman shot dead by IRA 'hugely proud' as memorial unveiled
The son of a man shot by the IRA in north Belfast 33 years ago said he is "hugely proud" to have unveiled a new memorial to his father on Orange Victims Day.
The plaque to John McCready was unveiled in Bangor as a series of commemorative events honoured members of the Orange Institution murdered during the Troubles.
Mr McCready was shot in a random sectarian attack as he walked home on the Cave Hill Road on January 27, 1976, his wife Renee's birthday.
He died 10 days later aged 56 in the Royal Victoria Hospital, his wife living on without him until two years ago.
His son Martyn, who lives in Dundonald, said yesterday's unveiling brought back painful memories of the day he lost his beloved father and best friend.
"Days like today are difficult as it brings it all back. Some days it feels like it only happened yesterday," he said.
Martyn was an only child and John, who ran a firm building houses and was a part-time firefighter, had been a huge figure in his life.
Martyn initially got a phone call to say his father had been in an accident, which was later confirmed as a shooting.
"He had been walking home with his friend when he was asked where he was going.
"He gave his address as Westland Road which identified him as a Protestant, so he was shot. He wasn't a member of any organisation or security force, he was just a builder and family man," Martyn recalled.
"The person who did this to my father is still free and doesn't realise how much damage he has done to me and my family.
"We are ordinary people who want to be left to go about our daily lives."
Yesterday's annual Orange Victims Day paid tribute to 338 Orangemen and one Orangewoman murdered by terrorists.
Grand master Edward Stevenson laid a wreath and paid his respects at the institution's memorial window at Schomberg House in Belfast during a short religious service.
A display of 339 crosses, one for each victim, was also laid at the memorial garden at Orange headquarters.
Other activities took place in every county in Northern Ireland, with many Orange halls displaying flags at half-mast as a mark of respect.
Mr Stevenson confirmed the day of remembrance, which is now an annual event in the Orange calendar, would continue to highlight the ongoing plight of the injured and bereaved.
He said: "It is a stark and harrowing statistic that almost 10% of all those killed throughout the four decades of the Troubles were members of the Orange Institution.
"It is therefore with great sadness and pride the institution rightly remembers our members who lost their lives at various memorial events across Northern Ireland."