What if it was your child?
Proposal to compensate families of all those who died in Troubles – including murdered terrorists – causes huge storm
Lord Eames was last night challenged over proposals that could see terrorists’ families receive compensation — “What if it was your son or daughter?”
The heartfelt question to the chair of the Consultative Group on the Past came from a mum whose daughter and son-in-law burned to death in the La Mon atrocity.
Rita Morrison had been one of the organisers of the Irish Collie Club dinner at the Co Down Hotel targeted in the sickening attack in February 1978.
Both Mrs Morrison, formerly Crawford, and her husband Ernie were pulled from the burning building.
But their recently-married daughter Elizabeth and son-in-law Ian McCracken were burned alive, two of a dozen victims in one of the most horrifying atrocities of the Troubles.
She believes the shock £12,000 payment proposed for families of the victims of terror — including those themselves involved in terrorism — will cause more hurt for victims than it will heal.
And she told Sunday Life that the men behind the Eames-Bradley proposals have failed to grasp the suffering felt by many victims of terror groups on both sides of the sectarian divide.
“These men Eames and Bradley, I am sure they have done a very good job in their own eyes.
“But neither of them has suffered as victims like myself,” said Mrs Morrison.
“If they were to put themselves in my shoes or in the shoes of others... they might see it differently.
“It’s very difficult when you have gone through it.
“I am going on Wednesday (to the formal launch of the proposals) and if I am asked to speak I will speak quietly and normally and say money will not heal my wounds.
“I would say to Lord Eames: ‘If you had a child taken in the same manner as I have had, what would you feel, what if it was your son or daughter?
“And Mr Bradley, how would he feel?
“Let them take it into themselves and then they might be able to relate better to us.”
It has been more than 30 years since the La Mon atrocity, but Mrs Morrison is still haunted by her memories of the grim scene.
She says money will never compensate her for that.
“I have had a cross to carry for 31 years.
“I couldn’t live for a long time.
“How could one go to sleep knowing that their own beautiful daughter had been incinerated with her husband and another 10 people?
“I am still grieving and £12,000 will not stop me grieving.”
Mrs Morrison, now 85, says she will attend the launch of the Consultative Group on the Past’s proposals later this week.
But she fears that when the package is announced it may cause more division that healing, if it is seen as rewarding terrorism.
“If in my mind it was going to do any good, it would be a good thing.
“But I think it’s going to hurt a lot of people.
“It might do more harm than good,” she added.