‘Blood soaked RHC title still causes much pain’

Alan Brecknell's father Trevor was murdered in a loyalist pub attack in south Armagh which was claimed by the Red Hand Commando.
Alan Brecknell's father Trevor was murdered in a loyalist pub attack in south Armagh which was claimed by the Red Hand Commando.

A man whose father was murdered by the Red Hand Commando in 1975 says the name of the group is “soaked in blood” and cannot be used for community work.

Alan Brecknell was speaking after the group announced it was seeking to be de-proscribed. He was only seven when two Red Hand Commando (RHC) gunmen burst into a Silverbridge pub and opened fire, killing his father Trevor and two others.

“It is obviously very laudable that people are trying to improve their community and move young people away from paramilitarism,” said Alan, who now works with the Pat Finucane Centre.

“But I just don’t see how you can do that while holding onto the Red Hand Commando name. The role of a commando is to kill people.”

It is good that RHC supporters are engaging in community work “to get people moving in the right direction” he said, but the RHC name is “soaked in blood and brings back so much heartache and pain for so many people”.

His father, an Englishman who married a Cullyhana woman, Anne, was a factory worker and youth worker.

“He was a very happy-go-lucky person. I always remember him with a smile on his face,” he added.

Alan’s personal view is that neither elderly terror suspects nor soldiers should be put on trial for Troubles killings. His only interest would be hearing his father’s killers explain their actions.

Kenny Donaldson, Spokesman for Innocent Victims United, said: “Our first concern is with the innocents and their families whose lives were stolen as a result of the terrorist actions of the RHC.”

While some aspects of the RHC’s public statement this week were welcome, he said, its request to be de-proscribed is “not appropriate”.

In previous political agreements, proscribed organisations committed to ceasing all terrorism, he said.

“The IRA, UVF/RHC, INLA, UDA etc must be remembered in history for what they were – organisations of oppression with ideologies which encouraged and indeed demanded one neighbour to murder another”. Their personnel must make restitution.