Video: Harrowing tales from Troubles victims at Stormont

Harrowing tales direct from those hurt by the Troubles were aired to a packed chamber at Stormont yesterday.

The roughly 120-strong gathering saw MLAs speak alongside those who been directly touched by paramilitary crimes, and all brought the same simple message to the meeting: that victims of violence must not be forgotten.

From left, Michele Nixon (Grant Weir's sister), Grant Weir (blown up by the IRA and survived), and Debbie Palmer (also Grant Weir's sister).

From left, Michele Nixon (Grant Weir's sister), Grant Weir (blown up by the IRA and survived), and Debbie Palmer (also Grant Weir's sister).

It is the third year such a commemoration has taken place, and it was sponsored by the TUV, SDLP and UUP.

DUP MLAs were also present, but TUV leader Jim Allister said that Sinn Fein had not been invited.

It was held the day before an EU-wide day of remembrance inspired by the 2004 Madrid bombing.

There was a sombre, near-total silence from the audience in the Senate Chamber as a trio of speakers rose to address the packed room, each telling their own tale of trauma.

June McMullan

June McMullan

First was Fermanagh woman Michelle Nixon, 44, who has been left caring for brother Grant Weir, 57, after the UDR private survived being blown up on patrol in Rosslea by an IRA bomb on July 17, 1979.

The attack also claimed the life of a female civilian.

Describing the minutiae of their daily struggle, Mrs Nixon told the meeting: “He can’t remember what day it is, people’s names, where he’s going, or where he’s been. This in turn becomes incredibly frustrating for us, as we find ourselves answering the same questions numerous times every day.

“It’s not always easy to be patient, and there are times when breaking point doesn’t seem that far away.”

But still his “kind, thoughtful and compassionate” personality shines through, she said, adding: “Grant is many things. A brother, an uncle, a cousin, a nephew. But above all he is the victim of the IRA. I’m very proud of our wee country and its people who have stood up to the bullies who act under the banner of terrorism.

“I hope that we continue taking steps in the right direction. But, as a family, we cannot forgive, and we will never forget.”

June McMullan, widow of RUC officer John Proctor who was shot and killed just minutes after visiting his wife and newborn child in hospital, said the day they saw his killer convicted her family’s prayers were answered.

Seamus Martin Kearney, 57, from Maghera, was given a life sentence last November for the murder 32 years earlier.

TUV MLA Jim Allister said the event saw some “very powerful contributions from victims”.

Thomas Boswell told the meeting at Stormont that he had been the victim of an INLA hit squad when he was a mere 18-year-old.

After being introduced by Jim Allister at yesterday’s Stormont commemoration, which had been jointly sponsored by the TUV, SDLP and UUP, he spoke in detail about the attempt on his life and about the needs of victims and survivors today.

Watch the video here.

Michelle Nixon said that it had been the first time they had ever given a public address on the subject of her brother’s attack.

Asked what she wanted to be the message of the meeting, she said: “The victims shouldn’t be forgotten. We didn’t want him (Grant) to be forgotten.”

While he does receive Disability Living Allowance, she said: “Money doesn’t cover what happened to him, or make up for what he lost.”

She and the other speakers received a standing ovation for their addresses. But poignantly she added that after a couple of hours, Grant’s injuries meant he would be unable to ever remember being there.