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Oswald Bradley tragedy: ‘We may never know why he died’

Oswald Bradley died after going into Bessbrook Pond to remove two Irish tricolours

Oswald Bradley died after going into Bessbrook Pond to remove two Irish tricolours

The tragic sequence of events that led to the death of Oswald Bradley “may never be fully known”, UUP MLA Danny Kennedy has said.

Mr Kennedy, who said he “knew Oswald all my life” said the south Armagh village remains “very stunned” after the 68-year-old’s untimely death on Monday.

The father-of-two died after being recovered from Bessbrook Pond. Mr Kennedy said he was in the possession of a Union Flag which it is believed he intended to erect on the island in the pond, where a week earlier two Irish tricolours had been hoisted.

Mr Kennedy said: “We may never know what Oswald had intended to do with the flag. He didn’t share his intention of going.

“He felt very strongly about the Union Flag, which was his flag as a British citizen and he flew the flag at his own house, in the context of his own property and respecting the flag – and knowing when to fly it and when to take it down.

“But clearly he felt very strongly the flags that were deliberately and maliciously put in the island area of Bessbrook Pond were disrespectful and not in keeping with the culture or ethos of Bessbrook.”

Mr Kennedy said the Bradley family are “continuing to try to come to terms with the enormity of their loss and make sense of the sequence of events that led to that”.

“Oswald was jolly and good fun, but he did have a serious side to and there were things he was committed to and believed in,” he added. “But it did not compromise his ability to mix with people and cross the political and sectarian divide.

“Bessbrook has always had good community relations going way back, even through the Troubles and the very dark days of Kingsmills. There has always been a healthy relationship between the two communities and Oswald was part of that.”

Mr Kennedy said people in the village are “stunned and personally I am very sorely grieved at the sequence of events and how things have ended up where we are”.

Kingsmills sole survivor, Alan Black, 70, who classed Mr Bradley as “one of my best friends”, said he had “practically been living” in the Bradley home since the tragedy.

“His family are traumatised and devastated,” said Mr Black. “Ossy was deeply involved in village life, in every part of it.

“He would have walked up the street to get the paper and not come back for an hour because he was talking to so many people.”

Mr Black said he “can’t imagine life here without him”.

He said: “He was someone who was alive and loved life. But when he made up his mind to do something there was no turning him. You could not talk him out of anything or into anything.

“I am not eulogising him, but he was the greatest man who helped anyone in need.”

The two contentious Irish tricolours hoisted on the island in Bessbrook Pond – which started the sequence of events leading to Mr Bradley’s death – were removed a short time after the tragedy.

Mr Kennedy said they were removed “in consultation with local representatives including myself and others with the police”.

He said “arrangements were made with a local canoeist to come and recover the flag that Oswald had intended to place and also the two tricolours”. “All three flags were given to the police,” he added.

A spokeswoman for Newry and Mourne District Council confirmed council employees “were not responsible for the removal of the tricolours from Bessbrook Pond”.

The south Armagh village is thought to have an almost equal division of Protestant and Catholic residents.

Mr Bradley’s funeral will be held on Thursday at noon at his home on Main Street. Interment will take place afterwards in Bessbrook Presbyterian burial ground.

Flags removed soon after tragedy

The two contentious Irish tricolours hoisted on the island in Bessbrook Pond – which started the sequence of events leading to Mr Bradley’s death – were removed a short time after the tragedy.

UUP MLA for Newry and Armagh, Danny Kennedy, said they were removed “in consultation with local representatives including myself and others with the police”. Mr Kennedy said “arrangements were made with a local canoeist to come and recover the flag that Oswald had intended to place and also the two tricolours”. “All three flags were given to the police,” he added. A spokeswoman for Newry and Mourne District Council yesterday confirmed council employees “were not responsible for the removal of the tricolours from Bessbrook Pond”.

The south Armagh village is thought to have an almost equal division of Protestant and Catholic residents.

 
 
 

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