Families of those killed in Troubles urge rethink on legacy

A man whose 20-year-old sister was killed by terrorists has urged the Secretary of State to rethink her proposals for dealing with Northern Ireland's troubled past.

Monday, 30th July 2018, 11:10 pm
Updated Friday, 31st August 2018, 5:00 pm
Victims and survivors of the Northern Ireland conflict attend a Innocent Victims United photocall at the steps of Parliament Buildings in the Stormont Estate, Belfast, before a meeting to discuss the NIO-led Legacy proposals whose origins connect with The Stormont House Agreement. Photo credit: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

David Kerrigan was one of 100 victims or survivors of terrorism who gathered at Stormont on Monday evening.

The death of his sister Heather, a corporal in the UDR, in an IRA bomb was reviewed by the former Historical Enquiries Team (HET).

Under the new legacy proposals put forward by Karen Bradley’s office, he fears he will not be entitled to any further attempts to bring her killers to justice.

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The victims expressed their concerns to local politicians at Stormont on Monday.

They also issued a message to Mrs Bradley, urging her to review her proposals.

A public consultation process on the legacy of the Troubles was launched by the Government in May.

It includes an Historical Investigations Unit (HIU) which would have a caseload of about 1,700 Troubles related deaths and aim to complete its work in five years.

Innocent Victims United spokesman Kenny Donaldson said as the proposals stand, those who had their cases looked at by the HET will not have access to an HIU investigation.

Mr Kerrigan said the HET report told them very little that they did not already know about the murder of his sister Heather.

Ms Kerrigan, and her colleague Norman McKinley were killed by an IRA bomb while on foot patrol close to Castlederg, Co Tyrone on July 14 1984.

“We feel we have been let down badly,” he told the Press Association.

“We would like to see all these cases reopened and investigated thoroughly.

“They (government) is hoping to forget about these things and move on, but we will not. I will not forget about Heather.”

Craig Agar from Newcastle upon Tyne was just eight when his father Thomas and two colleagues were killed in Enniskillen while taking part in a fishing competition.

Mr Agar, along with Robert Huggins and Peter Gallimore, off-duty members of the Royal Fusiliers, died after their van was blown up by the IRA on May 18 1984.

“I think the proposals are just the old methods being dressed up, there are a lot of things in this new paper that fill me with fear,” he said.

“We are already appeasing terrorists. My father’s murderers are walking around in Armani suits and have nice jobs. My father doesn’t have that luxury.”

Alan Irwin from Sixmilecross lost both his father Tommy and uncle Freddie in separate incidents.

Tommy Irwin, a sewage plant worker and part-time UDR soldier was shot dead by the IRA at Mountfield near Omagh on March 26 1986.

Freddie Irwin, UDR soldier, was shot dead by the IRA on October 29 1979 as he drove to work in Dungannon.

Mr Irwin said his family has never seen anyone held to account for the murders.

“Assurances were given at the time that no stone would be left unturned, but nothing has happened in either murder,” he said.

“We have had no justice and now these new proposals mean we will have no other avenue for getting justice and answers to our questions.”

Innocent Victims United spokesman Kenny Donaldson said the legacy proposals need to be reworked.

“There is an equality of access issue and we are calling for that to be addressed,” he said.

“If this is a genuine consultation, if there is a willingness to look at issues, there should be a willingness to look at those structural problems which exist within this document.

“Tinkerings are not good enough, there are fundamentals which must be put right.”