Daughters’ plea for truth over IRA double murder

William Hassard, murdered by the IRA in 1988
William Hassard, murdered by the IRA in 1988

The family of one of two civilians slain in a gun attack in the far west of the Province has appealed for answers on the 30th anniversary of the double killing.

William Hassard and Frederick Love were shot to death in an IRA ambush on August 4, 1988, as they travelled home after doing some maintenance work on an RUC base.

Frederick Love, murdered by the IRA, 1988

Frederick Love, murdered by the IRA, 1988

As they reach precisely three decades on from the still-unsolved killings, two of Mr Hassard’s daughters, Marina Hassard and Audrey Ovens, have spoken to the News Letter about their hope that the conscience of someone, somewhere, will finally be spurred into action.

Whilst many years previously William had been a UDR member, it was the Protestant men’s work at an RUC station which they believe motivated the murderers.

Marina Hassard, 58, and now training to be a Methodist minister, said the attack happened at Slaters Cross, on the edge of Belleek, at the west Fermanagh border.

They believe their father had been threatened beforehand, and Marina said he had bought a new vehicle “to try and remain a little bit more anonymous – but this was the vehicle they were struck down in”.

William had just turned 60 on July 31.

When the the news was broken to the family by an uncle later on that day, it was “a very surreal experience”.

“I remember looking over at my mother, and just the utter disbelief on her face,” said Marina.

“And my mother [Violet] carried that for the remaining 11 years of her life and there wasn’t a day went by when she didn’t talk about our father.”

Audrey, a 50-year-old health care assistant – who like Marina still lives in west Fermanagh – said: “There’s still a rawness there. There’d still be a deep loss.

“I’ve children now, and he was a great man for playing, doing things with children.”

She described him as a “workaholic”, and “very much a friendly person”.

He also left behind two other children, Colin and Karen.

Marina said: “Nobody was ever caught, and nobody has ever come forward to give us any truth on the matter, or even to say sorry.

“The truth has been hidden from us and concealed really.

“It’s up to the perpetrators to come forward.

“Now if we’re trying to bring healing and trying to bring this country together, is this not a good time to come forward and say sorry and say who you are?

“If they are still alive. Come forward. Do the right thing. We’re willing to forgive. And that’s the Lord’s command, that we do forgive.”

The book ‘Lost Lives’, which records details of the 3,700-plus people who died in the Troubles, paints a picture of a particularly violent attack on William Hassard and Frederick Love.

It said that when they stopped at a junction “up to four gunmen armed with automatic rifles opened fire, spraying the vehicle”.

It says that the inquest into the deaths had been told 99 spent bullet casings had been recovered from the crime scene.

It said that after the killers had finished, they forced a nearby motorist out of his car and stole it to make their escape.

The book adds: “The IRA in west Fermanagh admitted the attack, claiming the men had ignored warnings to stop working for the security forces.

“The statement also threatened others involved in similar work.”

William Hassard is described in the book as a building contractor, who had employed eight people – including Mr Love, who was a “lifelong friend”.

It describes Mr Love as a single joiner, aged 64, and quotes an unnamed sister as saying: “They were children together, they worked together for 40 years, and now they have died together.

“I just don’t know what sort of people could have murdered them. Everyone here is in a state of shock.”

It states that the pair were among 112 fatalities in the county of Fermanagh during the course of the Troubles.

Marina added: “For all we know judgement and justice may already have been served.

“Thirty years is a long time in anybody’s life. All I know is we live under a God who is a forgiving God. And if somebody was to come forward and seek forgiveness of God first and come and speak truthfully to a family such as ours, we’re willing to listen.”