INLA display ‘brings back the hurt’ for terror victims

The INLA display in west Belfast in tribute to Martin McElkerney
The INLA display in west Belfast in tribute to Martin McElkerney

The gunmen who fired shots in west Belfast on Monday night have retraumatised some of those bereaved and maimed by the terror group, the sister of an INLA victim has said.

Following the INLA’s volley of shots in tribute to ex-prisoner Martin McElkerney, a former UDR soldier whose sister was severely injured in the 1982 Droppin Well bomb blast, said those who paraded with the automatic rifle in the Divis area “have brought back the hurt and pain.”

McElkerney, 57, was taken to hospital after he was discovered critically injured at Milltown Cemetery in Belfast last week. He died soon afterwards.

“The younger generation don’t know because they didn’t live through it, but people like myself – this brings back the hurt and the pain. It didn’t get them anywhere when they were doing all this, so why can they not do something peaceful?” she said.

The ex-UDR member, who does not wish to be named, was one of the first on the scene at the Droppin Well Inn atrocity in Co Londonderry that claimed the lives of 11 soldiers and six civilians.

Her 17-year-old sister was one of those she helped carry out on a stretcher, but did not recognise her because of her severe burns and singed hair.

“When I was putting her in the ambulance I didn’t realise it was her until I saw her bracelet and then realised it was her.”

Commenting on her thoughts as she watched the INLA tribute to McElkerney – who was jailed for his role in a 1982 bomb blast in Belfast that killed Kevin Valliday, 11, Stephen Bennett, 14, and Lance Bombardier Kevin Waller aged 20 – she said: “What goes through my mind is ‘have they not learned from the past?’ All that hurt and pain that is still there for the victims.”

She added: “Look at that tragedy that happened to the reporter [Lyra McKee] in Londonderry. As someone has seen atrocities first hand, and the ongoing after effects, we need to be healing this country, not taking it back to where it was.”

DUP Policing Board member Keith Buchanan said the paramilitaries involved in the INLA tribute “should have left the stage long ago.”

Mr Buchanan said: “Those who cling to the trappings of terrorism should feel the full weight of the law. The majority of people in Northern Ireland do not want this on our streets.”

A PSNI spokesman said: “Police are aware of a video on social media showing a masked man firing shots into the air. An investigation is underway to establish the full circumstances surrounding this incident.”