Belfast Telegraph

Troubles gave me PTSD, says Sinn Fein's Gildernew

Michelle Gildernew
Michelle Gildernew

By Rebecca Black

A Sinn Fein MP has said she was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder because of the Troubles.

Fermanagh and South Tyrone representative Michelle Gildernew was speaking in Dublin during a meeting of the Oireachtas committee on the Good Friday Agreement.

The political veteran grew up in the 1970s and 1980s in Co Tyrone, where her family took part in the civil rights campaign.

Ms Gildernew (49) also highlighted how victims of less well-known atrocities did not get as much attention.

"There are victims and survivors right across these islands. While the Dublin and Monaghan bombings understandably get a lot of attention, there were bombings in Cavan as well and families bereaved and children who died as a result of that," she told the committee.

"Anybody who has lost a loved one knows what it feels like to be a victim.

"There is an awful lot of pain and hurt out there, I recognise that.

"We've all been through the conflict. I was diagnosed with PTSD in 2013 as a result of it. There are a lot of damaged people out there.

"We have to look at wider societal issues and the impact we have on prescribed drugs, our suicide rates and all of that.

"There is a still an awful lot of hurt. If it is not tackled and dealt with properly, then that hurt will continue to be generational and that pain will be felt for years to come."

Ms Gildernew spoke out in 2012 about her 20-year battle with depression. She outlined a number of causes for it, including being asked by her party to stand aside both as an MLA and as chair of the Stormont health committee, a family death and a series of people taking their own lives in her constituency.

In 2015 she lost her Westminster seat to the Ulster Unionist Party's Tom Elliott.

She returned to Stormont as an MLA in 2016 and won back her Westminster seat in 2017.

Earlier, Northern Ireland's Victims and Survivors Commissioner, Judith Thompson, urged the committee to press the Irish Government to probe atrocities that took place in its jurisdiction to secure answers for grieving families.

Among her recommendations was for Ireland to establish a mechanism similar to the proposed historical investigations unit to carry out investigations into incidents that took place in the Republic.

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