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Third of Troubles killings still being probed

Enniskillen deaths some of 1,186 under investigation


Archbishop Robin Eames and Denis Bradley

Archbishop Robin Eames and Denis Bradley

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Enniskillen bomb survivor Jim Dixon, who was seriously injured

Enniskillen bomb survivor Jim Dixon, who was seriously injured

Brian Little


Archbishop Robin Eames and Denis Bradley

More than a third of Troubles killings are still being investigated by police, two decades on from the Good Friday Agreement.

Some 1,186 killings that occurred over three decades are being investigated by the Legacy Investigation Branch (LIB) of the PSNI, according to an investigation by news website The Detail.

Around 3,200 people died as a direct result of the Troubles between January 1969 and the signing of the Agreement on April 10, 1998, with hundreds more killed in related violence.

Almost half (45.5%) of Troubles killings being investigated by the LIB were carried out by republican paramilitaries.

Loyalists were responsible for just under a quarter (23%), while just under 30% were attributed to the security forces.

The backlog of legacy cases is being handled by a variety of bodies, including the Coroner's Service (53 legacy inquests relating to 94 deaths), the Attorney General's office (27 legacy file inquests) and the Police Ombudsman's office (165 historical matters).

Former Church of Ireland Primate Lord Robin Eames told The Detail that dealing with legacy cases is still a complex issue.

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As co-chair of the Consultative Group on the Past, Lord Eames and former Policing Board vice chairman Denis Bradley published a report in 2009 examining how the legacy of the Troubles could be dealt with.

"People look for justice," he said. "One person will expect to see somebody in the dock accused of a particular crime. Somebody will say that's justice.

"Somebody else will argue, 'I simply want to know what happened' and the third person doesn't really know what they want. We also have to acknowledge many of the victims of those years are passing on.

"What Denis Bradley and I said in our report all those years ago is that it's one thing to investigate crimes to get a prosecution, it's another to realise that as time goes on and time passes, much of those enquiries will have to be centred on simply, 'What do we know happened all those years ago?'

"It's a question of, do you keep those investigations going after all these years or do you simply say, 'This is part of our history, and there is nothing we can do about it'?"

Investigations surrounding the Enniskillen bomb form part of the case-load.

Eleven people were killed, including a police officer, when the IRA detonated a bomb during a Remembrance Day service at the town's cenotaph in 1987.

A 12th person died 13 years later after being in a coma since the tragedy occurred.

No one has been convicted of the atrocity, despite 10 arrests being made.

Jim Dixon was one of 63 people injured in the blast.

"My life has been a living hell for 32 years," he told The Detail.

"My skull fractured like an eggshell. The eye sockets in my skull disintegrated into my head, the roof of my mouth was blown out.

"My right hand jaw was missing from my chin to my ear. I had nine ribs broken and two hips smashed.

"My pelvis was broken and my leg badly smashed. I wasn't really a candidate for living.

"I have had three operations this year. I had my 41st operation about three weeks ago. The worst operation I ever had was the one before that. They took the bone from my hip and put it into the roof of my mouth.

"I can't swallow. I have to suck my food. My tongue is 80% paralysed.

"Every day is a living hell for me, but if an IRA man came to my home, I would treat him as a friend. I would give him the gospel because I don't want him to go to hell."

Mr Dixon, who was 49 at the time, believes that legacy victims have been neglected by those in power.

"For the most part, the politicians see the injured as an embarrassment. They don't want anything to do with them."

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