Tricked into sitting with an IRA bomber

Jackie Nicholl at his home holding a picture of his son Colin. Picture by Arthur Allison/Pacemaker
Jackie Nicholl at his home holding a picture of his son Colin. Picture by Arthur Allison/Pacemaker

A man whose son died in an IRA bomb today tells of how he felt tricked to find he was on a victims’ body with a bomber.

Jackie Nicholl, writing in today’s News Letter, recounts the story of how his 17-month-old son Colin was killed in a blast on the Shankill Road in December 1971.

His wife Ann has not recovered from the trauma and still gets counselling for it.

In a contribution to our Stop The Legacy Scandal (see below) series of essays that raises fresh questions about the definition of a victim, Mr Nicoll recounts how he joined the Victims and Survivors Forum last year.

On it, he became friends with Robert McClenaghan, whose grandfather was murdered in the loyalist McGurk’s bar bomb. “He was affable and friendly and one time I gave him a lift into Belfast.”

But Mr Nicholl was later sent a disc by an anonymous person, which showed Mr McClenaghan “telling the story about how he was in the IRA, how they bombed Belfast”.

Mr Nicholl writes: “To think that my son, my beloved son, was killed by an IRA bomb and I had been tricked into sitting alongside an IRA bomber.”

He then resigned from the forum in disgust.

“I had sympathised with [McClenaghan] about his grandfather being killed but lost all sympathy when I heard he had turned to bombing himself. We never turned to violence. I became a trade unionist, working for everyone.”

• The essay is in the print edition of today’s paper and will be put online below much later on Monday

Full essay here: An IRA bomb killed my son yet it was me who had to quit the victims forum while boastful bomber stayed