Commissioner ‘heaped more hurt on victims’ by attending McGuinness funeral

William and Agnes Mullan, parents of Margaret Veitch, were amongst 11 people killed in the Poppy Day IRA bombing in Enniskillen, 1987
William and Agnes Mullan, parents of Margaret Veitch, were amongst 11 people killed in the Poppy Day IRA bombing in Enniskillen, 1987

A woman whose parents were killed in the 1987 ‘Poppy Day’ Enniskillen bombing has spoken of the pain caused by the NI victims’ commissioner’s attendance at Martin McGuinness’s funeral.

Margaret Veitch, whose parents William and Agnes Mullan were amongst those killed in the blast, described the hurt caused by Judith Thompson’s attendance at the funeral of an “unrepentant terrorist”.

Margaret said the commissioner, whose role is to advocate on behalf of Troubles victims like her, had paid more respect to a “victim maker” than the actual victims.

She said: “I was brought back to the week of my parents’ death. It is unbelievable the pain I’ve felt. We have been cast aside and everybody wants us to move on – well I’m not going to move on. I want the good, decent people of Northern Ireland to recognise the pain of the last week.

“We are victims, through no fault of our own, and it was very, very hard to watch our victims’ commissioner Judith Thompson at that funeral.

“Instead of her thoughts being with the victims, she chose to go to Martin McGuinness’s funeral. It was a choice of hers to pay respects to a man who was an unrepentant terrorist.

“I am devastated. Nobody listens to the victims any more. They want us to go away.

“She paid more respect to the ‘victim maker’. We are so disgusted there was so much respect shown to an unrepentant terrorist. Before he died he was proud of his IRA past.

“Martin McGuinness went to his grave with secrets and us, we’ll never get the truth.

“He was unrepentant. He actually said he was proud of his past and that’s very hurtful. If you’re proud, you have never asked for forgiveness.

“How can you give forgiveness to someone who’s never even asked for it?”

She added: “She is meant to be a commissioner? There was no need for her to go that funeral. She has heaped more hurt on us.”

Other Troubles victims have criticised the commissioner for her attendance at the funeral.

Diane Woods, whose aunt and uncle Thomas and Emily Bullock were murdered by the IRA in their home near Derrylin, Co Fermanagh in 1972, described Judith Thompson’s attendance at the funeral as “inappropriate”.

Others to have criticised the commissioner for her attendance at the funeral include ex-soldier James Leatherbarrow, who was in the IRA Ballygawley bus bombing of 1988, and Geraldine Ferguson, whose son Patrick Azimkar was murdered by dissident republicans in 2009 at Massereene Army barracks.

The News Letter requested a response from the victims’ commissioner this week to the concerns raised by victims such as Margaret Veitch.

Despite multiple telephone calls and – at the request of the PR agency acting on behalf of the victims’ commissioner – having on Wednesday evening outlined in writing the victims’ concerns in some detail, no reply has been forthcoming after two full working days, plus the period over the weekend.