40 years on from chilling IRA murdered of RUC man visiting his five-day-old son in hospital
RUC Reserve Constable Johnny Proctor was murdered by the IRA in the grounds of Magherafelt Hospital when visiting his wife and five-day-old baby boy.
Forty years on, it continues to be a difficult time to navigate for the family – a birthday celebration followed by the anniversary of a father’s life cut short at 25.
Johnny’s widow June McMullin spoke to the News Letter just before a service was to take place in the village of Upperlands, Co Londonderry to mark the 40th anniversary of his murder.
She said: “Johnny never really goes too far from our thoughts. Our son Johnny’s birthday was five days ago, everything just sort of runs into each other – it’s a happy occasion then it’s a sad occasion.”
Recalling the night of September 14, 1981, June said: “I went into hospital on the Thursday to have the baby. I’d gone in four weeks early. Within five days they had it arranged to murder him. Johnny would have been in every night after baby Johnny was born.
“I’d had Johnny on the Thursday, on the Saturday another young man from our village had been murdered (UDR man Alan Clarke). Johnny had told me on Saturday about Alan’s murder and then Alan’s funeral was on the Monday and Johnny was murdered on the Monday night.”
Johnny Jnr was the couple’s second child after Adrian, who was 23-months-old when his father was murdered.
Last year, June, who has remarried and had another daughter, said her son Johnny gave the family reason to celebrate: “After many years of trying we were blessed with a little grandson.”
Of the proposed amnesty for Troubles murderers, June said: “It’s very unfair that this amnesty is going to come in, but as our government has it laid out, if we take everybody to court the most they’re going to get is two years anyway.”
Under the Good Friday Agreement, as well as the release of prisoners in 1998, it was guaranteed that anyone convicted in future would serve only two years in jail.
This was the case with Seamus Kearney, who was convicted of John’s murder in 2013 for which he served just two years.
June said: “He didn’t even do two years, he got out at weekends. The only joy is we convicted him of the murder and we got a sentence. We didn’t get the life sentence that he gave us.
“It’s like you’ve got a conviction which is great then they take it away from you when they only get two years. Two years out of people’s lives isn’t a very long time.”
A message from the Editor:
Thank you for reading this story on our website. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.
With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our advertisers - and consequently the revenue we receive - we are more reliant than ever on you taking out a digital subscription.
Subscribe to newsletter.co.uk and enjoy unlimited access to the best Northern Ireland and UK news and information online and on our app. With a digital subscription, you can read more than 5 articles, see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Visit https://www.newsletter.co.uk/subscriptions now to sign up.
Our journalism costs money and we rely on advertising, print and digital revenues to help to support them. By supporting us, we are able to support you in providing trusted, fact-checked content for this website.