Belfast Telegraph

Woman speaks out for first time so three brothers murdered by IRA aren't forgotten

 

Pam Morrison is now the only surviving member of her family
Pam Morrison is now the only surviving member of her family
Sister Hilary: died in 1979
Brother Ronnie: killed in 1981
Brother Cecil: killed in 1981
Brother Jimmy: killed in 1985

By Staff Reporter

A Lisnaskea woman who lost three brothers in separate IRA attacks within four years has spoken for the first time of how their deaths devastated her family.

Pam Morrison said she wanted to speak out so that they would be remembered.

Brothers and part-time UDR men Ronnie, Cecil and Jimmy Graham were all killed in Co Fermanagh attacks in the 1980s.

All were off-duty when they were killed and no one has ever been convicted of the murders.

A sister, Hilary, who was also in the UDR, died in 1979, aged 27, years after being hit by a car as she manned a checkpoint.

Pam Morrison said she never knew why her family was targeted. She said the deaths left her father a "broken man" and she remembered each of her siblings' deaths as if they were yesterday.

"You didn't know where to turn, who to talk to or anything else," she told the BBC. "It was... really devastating for the family and to their wives and to the youngsters that they left behind.

"That memory is always with you and the older you get, the more you want your family."

Mrs Morrison said that she had previously kept details of her family tragedy "all to myself".

"You kept going on from day to day and that was it," she said.

Mrs Morrison said that being left as the last surviving member of the family had prompted her to speak out. "Who else is going to remember them unless I say something about it?" she said.

Mrs Morrison said she was resigned to never seeing their killers brought to justice, saying her faith had helped her cope.

"Retaliation is not going to be any good to anyone - it's just going to leave more hurt in the community," she said. "It's your faith that carries you through that and you don't want the like of that to happen (to) any other family."

She said she had never come to terms with the reason the IRA targeted her family.

"I just could never understand why it was the one family that was targeted so much," she said.

In June 1981, Lance Corporal Ronnie Graham was the first brother to be killed. Aged 39, he was ambushed while delivering groceries for a local shop. He left behind two children.

Months later, Private Cecil Graham was killed after he was spotted entering the property where his Catholic wife and newborn son were staying. He was shot 16 times as soon as he stepped outside in the early hours of November 10, 1981.

The 32-year-old died in hospital the next day.

Private Jimmy Graham (39) was killed while driving a school bus in Derrylin in 1985. He had two children, aged 11 and 15.

An attempt had been made on his life in 1980, but he managed to fight off his would-be assassins. However, on February 1, 1984 a total of 26 bullets were fired into his body as he arrived in the school bus he drove to collect children from a Derrylin primary school and take them to the local swimming pool.

The three murders were widely interpreted locally as "ethnic cleansing" of Protestants.

Kenny Donaldson, director of services at the victims' support group, the South East Fermanagh Foundation, said Pam Morrison and the Graham family "are special people, their courage and refusal to be defeated and embittered by the evils of terrorism is awe inspiring".

"The remaining Graham family connections are mainly still living in the south and mid-Fermanagh area; they have not left their home, they have not left the community, they have sought to live their lives as well as they can against the backdrop of the turmoil they have been forced to face," he said.

"They are the heroes and martyrs in this place, and others like them - not those who went out to steal life and divide our people."

He said that for the Graham family and local community the attacks represented the legacy of the 1981 republican hunger strike in the Maze Prison, and "terrorism motivated by sectarian and ethnic influences".

DUP leader Arlene Foster tweeted that she was "so proud of Pam and her dignity in talking about her devastating loss at the hands of the PIRA". She added: "I remember Jimmy's murder vividly. I was on the school bus.

"When the news came on the radio many children cheered and asked the driver to turn up the volume ... Awful times."

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