I want closure for my Geraldine, says brother of 1972 Cavan bomb victim

Geraldine O'Reilly, aged 15, died in a loyalist bomb attack in Belturbet, Co Cavan in 1972. Her brother Anthony will tell her story at Stormont on Tuesday
Geraldine O'Reilly, aged 15, died in a loyalist bomb attack in Belturbet, Co Cavan in 1972. Her brother Anthony will tell her story at Stormont on Tuesday

A man whose 15-year-old sister was murdered by a loyalist bomb in Co Cavan is to tell his story at Stormont in his quest for truth and justice.

Anthony O’Reilly will be taking part in the annual European Day for Victims of Terrorism in the Long Gallery at Parliament Buildings on Tuesday.

He was leaving his older sister home to the other side of Belturbet in Co Cavan in December 1972 and stopped to allow his 15-year-old sister buy chips.

“I thought was I was fallen asleep dreaming,” he said of the aftermath of the no-warning bomb.

“When I woke up I did not know what had happened for a good while. There were cars on fire and there were wires everywhere.”

He found his sister in the chip shop.

“She was just lying there on the floor. I knew from the clothes she was wearing that it was Geraldine.

“Nearly every day you would think about it.”

Also killed was Patrick Stanley, aged only 16.

Anthony was 21 and Geraldine was 15. A very quiet “sweet” girl, she looked up to her older brother and felt safe to be at his side.

“She came nearly everywhere with me. Anywhere I was going she nearly always came with me,” Anthony said.

She was hoping to become a primary school teacher.

“My father and mother went to an early grave over it.”

Nobody has ever claimed responsibility or been convicted of the attack, suspected to be the work of the UVF.

There has been no inquiry but Justice for Forgotten in Dublin campaigns on his behalf.

“They can’t seem to get access to the [Gardai] files.”

He said the proposed new legacy structures in the Stormont House Agreement are supposed to hold both the UK and Republic of Ireland to account for their roles in the Troubles.

“Justice or truth are both important to me, the truth of what happened, who was responsible. We think we know who it was but there are no files so we don’t know exactly.”

A public acknowledgement and apology from those responsible would be welcome.

“It is hard to know whether there would ever be anyone convicted of it at all,” he added.

“The reason I am coming to speak at Stormont is just to let people know what happened – probably some of them are not even aware of it – how Geraldine and Patsy were killed. There are many cases the same as mine and there doesn’t seem to be any justice for any of them.

“She was a very sweet girl. I am not in great form myself, but you keep on going for justice for Geraldine and Patsy. They can’t do it for themselves.”