Wife of UUP member killed by IRA 40 years ago launches book about late husband’s life
The widow of a UUP MP assassinated by the IRA said her late husband’s “search for hidden evils” – such as the funding by American supporters of republican terrorism – helped place him on a hit list.
Norah Bradford (73) said she did not believe Reverend Robert Bradford’s knowledge of ‘disturbing’ rumours of child abuse at Kincora was a factor.
She recalled the murder of the Rev Bradford at the launch of her book about his life, When Life is Taken, on Friday.
Rev Bradford, who represented South Belfast, was gunned down by three IRA gunmen while carrying out a constituency surgery at a community centre in Finaghy on November 14, 1981.
The perpetrators had entered the building posing as workmen, carrying ladders and wearing boilersuits while a children’s birthday party took place.
The MP was fatally shot as was the centre’s caretaker, Kenneth Campbell.
No one has ever been prosecuted for the killings.
At the time, the Dublin-born woman was aged 33 and the mother of a seven-year-old daughter.
The book launch, held in the House of Vic-Ryn in Lisburn, was also attended by guest speakers Lord Trimble and former DUP leader, Peter Robinson, who both knew Robert personally.
Norah said she believed “now was the right time” to speak of what happened due to the ongoing issue of legacy, with the “government drawing a line under a lot of court cases”.
"In some ways, rightly, because we can’t go on and on and on with this. If they haven’t managed to bring a lot of people to court in all those years, then it’s probably not going to happen,” she explained.
"But it’s very, very hard for people… like myself and others who haven’t had any person brought to justice for these crimes.”
She added: “But God’s in charge. He knows.”
Norah said she helped deal with her grief over the years by “screaming while sitting in a car in an empty car park” or “screaming into a cushion” as her own way of “getting these intense feelings out”.
In her book, she recalled how within hours of learning of Robert’s killing, she received a message from the Queen via a phone call from Her Majesty’s office.
The 40th anniversary of Rev Bradford’s murder was marked last month with a special ceremony held at Finaghy Community Centre. It took place around a month after the murder of Conservative MP Sir David Amess who was fatally stabbed during a constituency surgery.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph previously, Norah – who is now based in Carrickfergus – described Sir David’s killing as filling her with “horror”.
When Time is Taken tells the story of how the couple met, fell in love, got married, had a beautiful daughter, followed their respective careers and were happily married.
The threat of republicanism, however, was never far away and Norah revealed in her book that Robert had been made aware that he was a target.
“He was always asking deep questions that others were afraid to, searching for hidden evils,” she said.
"Behind the scenes he was uncovering businesses and USA bodies that were laundering money to the Irish republican terrorists and their Sinn Fein movement.”
Norah added that her husband had, in the lead-up to his death, become “disturbed” by rumours of child sexual abuse at the Kincora boys’ home in East Belfast.
“He became convinced that the people behind Kincora were not just a group of paedophiles. He felt there was, like an iceberg, more hidden than was in the light,” she wrote.
His knowledge of Kincora was mooted as a possible motive for his murder by the late journalist Lyra McKee.
Norah, however, insisted she believed the motive was ultimately due to her husband’s outspoken stance against terrorism and his efforts to expose US financial links to the republican movement.
"I do not believe that it was complicated. I believe he was high on the terrorists’ list and its as uncomplicated as that,” she said.
“Robert had very grave concerns about Kincora. He was just horrified at the information coming out. Any information he had, went to the police when he died – or died with him.”
When Time Is Taken, published by Maurice Wylie Media, £9.99