The younger brother of a soldier murdered in the Hyde Park bomb has said “mistakes of such a fundamental nature must never be allowed to happen again”.
Christopher Daly, 49, spoke to the News Letter as the fallout from an ‘amnesty’ letter to convicted IRA man John Downey continued to unfold.
Downey had been charged with killing four soldiers in the 1982 Hyde Park bombing – but an Old Bailey judge dismissed the case when it emerged that Downey had a letter granting him immunity from prosection.
Mr Daly was 18 years old when his 23-year-old brother – Blues and Royals Household Cavalry Lieutenant Anthony Daly – was murdered along with three other soldiers on July 20, 1982.
“My brother had just got married,” he said.
“Both he and Trooper Tipper had just got married days apart. In fact I last saw my brother at his wedding which was a happy day. I was having a driving lesson at the time of the bomb. My parents were desperate to let me know before I saw it on the television.”
He said from an early age Anthony “really wanted to join the Army”.
“My brother was the third generation of our family that went into the Blues and Royals and I also did an eight-year stint with them,” he said.
“When Anthony was 16 he managed to win an Army scholarship which meant as soon as he left school he was able to go straight to Sandhurst. He joined as soon as he could.
“He did a tour in Belfast before he went to Knightsbridge.
“He was in Belfast in the late 70s which was a very tough situation. In fact, after getting concussed playing rugby he was sent home to England on sick leave. This happened at a time when the IRA ambushed his patrol and killed two soldiers as they were entering back into barracks. If he had not been on sick leave he would have been killed at that stage.”
He added: “I miss my brother. For all the families, those who were murdered were husbands, fathers and brothers.
“You never forget it. It is a very deep, deep wound. Yes, it happened 32 years ago but if you speak to some of the families of victims the hurting never stops, it is remembered every day and you learn to cope with it because you need to, to try to live.”
Mr Daly, a former Army Major, said revelations about the Downey case “have blown the cupboard wide open”.
He said “initial safeguards” of the administration scheme were put in place “to prevent exactly what has happened with Downey”. He added that “deep down I am absolutely seething with anger about this, as are the families”.
He said it emerged during the trial that “three opportunities arose highlighting that Downey was still wanted” but that “none of the opportunities to get this right was actioned”.
“That is where the anger comes because people in professional positions ought to do their job properly,” he said.