Jennifer Jordan lost six family members in the Troubles, including her father Clifford, a UDR veteran. She tells Eimear McGovern why she is ‘disgusted’ by the amnesty plans
Jennifer Jordan was 30 years old when, while inside the family home in Armagh, she heard gunfire. When she went outside, she saw her father, Ulster Defence Regiment veteran Clifford Lundy, lying on the ground having been shot and killed.
It was January 2 1980 and her family had already lost three members of their family during the Troubles, with her father being the fourth to be murdered. Two other family members would also go on to lose their lives in the conflict.
Having lost six family members in total over the course of the Troubles, Jennifer, now 72, has spoken out against government legacy plans to end all prosecutions for Troubles offences.
Jennifer, who went on to marry and now lives in Fermanagh, said she thinks it's "totally disgusting" that the UK government "want to sweep everything under the carpet". "Our loved ones were murdered for trying to defend their country and now the government has turned their back on them," she said.
Jennifer said: "If someone murders, it's a moral law that you pay for what you do. It's not something you just get a pat on the back for and go on and you're a good boy like it doesn't matter. That's what the government is saying is going to happen."
Her father, also known as Samuel Faircliffe Lundy, was aged 62 when he was shot outside his home in Kingsmills, County Armagh, in January 1980 at their home close to Kingsmills Presbyterian Church. He had been in the UDR and made the rank of Corporal but had left the organisation almost three years previously when he was killed.
Just a short distance from his home, ten Protestant workmates had four years previous been murdered in what would become known as the Kingsmill massacre.
Jennifer said her family, many of whom were in the UDR, had for a long time "lived with the risk" associated with their work. "That was our life, something we lived with," she said.
The first family member to be murdered was Joseph Jardine in 1972, the husband of Clifford's cousin and also in the UDR. "He was shot, the same as my father."
An uncle, her mother Mary Jane's (known as Jeannie) brother-in-law Bertie Frazer was murdered in 1975. "He was the first close family member and he was also in the UDR. Three months later there was another uncle in 1975, Johnny Bell was shot - that was my mum's brother."
She said: "Trevor Elliott was 1984 and Alan Johnson was 1988. Trevor was my cousin's husband and Alan Johnston was my mother's cousin's son. Alan was shot and Trevor was blown up in an explosion at Camlough."
Despite the risk, her family members were proud of the role they played in the UDR. Almost 200 UDR personnel were killed while on duty, while a further 62 were killed after they left the force, according to victims organisations.
"They were serving their country and trying to stop terrorism, which is what should be done," said Jennifer, who is involved in victims' groups the South East Fermanagh Foundation (SEFF) and Families Acting for Innocent Relatives (FAIR) in Markethill.
It was her father's first day back at work as a lorry driver at Haldane Shiells in Newry after the Christmas break on January 2 in 1980. Jennifer remembers her father as someone who was always willing to help others and was a central member of their small but isolated community where they lived. "He was a good father, he always provided for his family and made sure we were all OK, like any father would," she said.
She was living at home and was inside the house with her mother when the incident took place and her father was shot in the back. They found him lying beside his car. "I didn't see him being murdered, we heard the shooting. And when we went out he was just lying there. So you couldn't say it was a happy new year for my family - it was quite the opposite."
Her parents had a difficult start to their married life after two of their children died, leaving behind Jennifer as their sole surviving child. "It was just myself, Mum and Dad. I had two wee brothers but they both died as infants, one was a two-year-old and the other was 18 months. They both died and then I was the only one left. My parents didn't have a good start in life," she said.
Her mother Jeannie worked in the local primary school but the murder of her husband, following on from other losses in the family was "enough to push every woman over the age", remembers Jennifer. Jeannie nevertheless had religion to lean on, which was a great help to her. "Like myself, she had a strong faith in the Lord Jesus as her saviour and that helped her through. Faith has absolutely helped me," said Jennifer.
The pair soon left the family home in September that year and moved nearby to a small housing estate to leave behind the isolation of their former home. Jennifer made the decision with her mother, now a widow, in mind. "It would have been better to have some company around her while I was working rather than having her at the other house all on her own.
"It did have a lasting impact on my mother, it got her down quite a bit but her faith sustained her. She didn't pass on until she was 85 years of age in 2001," said Jennifer. "We did get a lot of sympathy and support when my father was murdered. It was a difficult time but you have to get on with your daily life. You can either sink or swim as the saying goes."
While no one was ever convicted directly of Clifford's murder, two young men in their twenties were charged with gathering information likely to endanger my father's life. "One of them was a helper on his lorry, which was very sad. He was charged and got eight years but was released early under the Good Friday Agreement."
It's something Jennifer found difficult to swallow. "I think he should have done the time and that's it. But that's the wonderful Belfast Agreement for you." But she believes in relation to the cases of those murdered by terrorists that they "should be resolved. I don't know how we can move on with things hovering in the background, things need to be cleared up before you can move on".
Relatives of UDR soldiers killed as well as veterans recently gathered in Co Tyrone to express their opposition to the amnesty plans.
As a family, Jennifer's wider extended family occasionally speak and reminisce about all six members who lost their lives. She acknowledged the amount of people they lost is a significant number. "I don't think I've heard of too many families who are like ours, although I would have heard of others losing three or four family members, but never six in the wider family circle."
And of her father, she said: "It's poignant I lived longer than he ever did. I would think of him from time to time but I try to get on with my life as best I can."
A UK Government spokesperson said: "The Government's deepest sympathies lie with all those who lost loved ones during the Troubles.
"The current system for addressing the past is not working well for anybody, most importantly victims and survivors. It is delivering neither justice nor information to the vast majority of families.
"Obtaining information, through thorough and robust investigations, is the cornerstone of the Government's proposals. This would be conducted by an independent body and supported by full disclosure by the state.
"The Government continues to engage and reflect on what we have heard, and we are considering our next steps carefully."