‘I had a gut feeling, I fell to my knees and cried for my brother’

Ruth Forrest instinctively knew that her brother David Harkness had been caught up in the IRA bomb attack
Ruth Forrest instinctively knew that her brother David Harkness had been caught up in the IRA bomb attack
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Ruth Forrest’s younger brother, whom she always looked out for as a child, was murdered in an IRA bomb attack while working as a joiner for the security forces.

David Harkness and seven other Protestant men died when the IRA blew up their minibus at Teebane crossroads between Omagh and Cookstown in 1992.

David Harkness was a civilian contractor for the security forces who was killed in the IRA bomb attack at Teebane

David Harkness was a civilian contractor for the security forces who was killed in the IRA bomb attack at Teebane

They were targeted as they carried out work for the security forces.

“David and I were the two youngest. I was nearly always watching out for him growing up. I was two years older than him,” Ruth said.

“The day of the bomb was horrific. I opened the front door and said: ‘What is going on’ - a bomb has gone off somewhere. I had a gut feeling. I came into the house and said: ‘I think David is involved’. I fell to my knees and started to cry.”

The news was confirmed to Ruth at 9m that night.

“I have never experienced anything like it. It is like a part of you dying,” she said.

However, David’s murder was not the only tragedy to hit the family.

Ruth’s father, a part-time UDR sergeant, was almost killed by an IRA under car bomb in 1978.

His back was broken in three places and his left leg in five, but he continued to serve for a further nine years.

Ruth’s sister Doreen Harkness, 22, was an RUC constable when she was killed at a vehicle check point in 1981.

Two young men were racing in the dark when one of them hit her at 110mph.

“I just remember coming home from school and mummy crying every day after that,” Ruth said.

Lastly, Ruth’s own home was totally destroyed in Cookstown in 1991 when an IRA bomb intended for the town centre was left outside it.

“We lost our entire home and contents,” she said.

Today Ruth is very pleased to be invited to the Operation Banner parade.

“I think it is lovely that they are remembering our loved ones. This parade is going to help mark my family’s sacrifice during the Troubles,” she added.