Bomb casualty in plea for victims to be recognised

Alex Bunting
Alex Bunting

A man who lost a leg following a booby-trapped bomb attack in Northern Ireland has accused the Government of not listening to victims.

Alex Bunting, 61, tried to commit suicide after the 1991 blast under his taxi on the Sandy Row in South Belfast.

When he was moved to a different hospital to start months of orthopaedic treatment he was hurt again by another bombing. Later, having lost his business, he went to sign on for welfare only to be told he was listed as deceased.

Victims have accused political leaders of betrayal after they signed a deal in November which failed to deal with the toxic legacy of the past.

Mr Bunting said: “Let’s work together to move forward and hope it never happens again, we must not allow this to happen again because I know my generation is the problem, it is not the kids or my grandkids, let’s give them a life and move forward.”

He accused the Government of not listening.

“We were left without a (victims) commissioner there for 18 months and Judith Thompson is now in and landed on her feet and hopefully she will do a good job for all victims but it is hard when Government won’t listen.”

He bore no hatred against his attackers.

“I realised I was angry, I was not a nice person to live with.

“I was carrying a hatred and hatred was what people had done to me and I could not get past that so through all the talking that I have done to other victims i realised what was the problem.”

He said the perpetrators should be consigned to the past.

“So I decided never, ever to hate people and it was like a weight getting lifted off my shoulders. I don’t hate people and religion or anything like that does not matter to me, I am being honest about that.”

He drew no distinction between victims and injured perpetrators.

“I am a victim, I don’t judge another victim and I don’t think other victims should judge other victims.

“I try my best every day to help as many people as I possibly can,I go round and visit people who need help, people who are maybe looking services for victims like wheelchairs, artificial limbs.

“The victims of the Troubles were sort of left behind where limbs are concerned, and I am not saying anything against the army who came back from war and these lovely great plastic limbs came into it - we did not. I appreciate they should get everything they need, certainly, but don’t forget about us.”

Long road to recovery for bomb attack victim

Alex Bunting had surgery to both legs and underwent skin grafts and other medical procedures in the months after a booby trapped bomb exploded under his car on his way to work.

The day after he arrived at Musgrave Park Hospital another bomb went off near the military wing. He suffered cuts and bruises.

He said: “You can imagine the fear and everything that I had going through one, sort of settling and then going there and that happening.”

He was in hospital of just over a year then allowed home at weekends.

He added: “I found that I was institutionalised, I was used to nurses and everybody doing everything for me until such times as I got home and it was a complete shock because normality kicks in and I found that very, very hard.”

He had to move home to Newtownards, a town where he knew nobody, and did not receive any counselling.

“I did one of the stupidest things in my life, I tried to commit suicide,” he said

He admitted: “I felt I was no longer a man able to provide for my family, I felt that I had lost my business, I had lost my work, I had lost my home because there was nothing in place, I was self-employed, I was living on the bare minimum.

“I felt as if I was a burden on everybody around me, getting pushed around in a wheelchair and having to go back and forward to hospital, could not go on holidays, all these sort of things played into what I had done.

“One day I was sitting in the house, this is after I had done what I had done, my wife said to me ‘you have gone through all this and what you are doing now is you are destroying us, we have been there’.

“I love my wife and my kids and without them I probably would not be here, without a shadow of a doubt.”

He said social services took them down to sign on social security because he had no money.

He added: “When I arrived into the dole office, I will never forget it...the clerk comes back and says to me ‘Mr Bunting I am sorry, you are down here as deceased’.

“That was very shocking to me also, but fair enough, these things happen, I took that in my stride.”

The following week he was taken to a community centre.

“As soon as the door opened I could smell the smell of pee and it just was not for me and when I went into the room it was all old people,” he said.

“I told him no, I cannot do it, so I did not get any counselling after all the trauma that happened to me.”

His said that his son developed epilepsy after he saw him being blown up.

“It has destroyed his life as well, it is a very hard way to carry on,” he added.