Mother cannot forgive killers after 20 years

Philip Allen (left) and Damien Trainor
Philip Allen (left) and Damien Trainor

The mother of one of two men murdered by the LVF in Poyntzpass twenty years ago today has said she will never be able to forgive the killers.

Lifelong friends Philip Allen (34) and Damien Trainor (25) were shot dead as they drank orange juice in the Railway Pub in the village on 3 March 1998.

Philip, a Protestant, had asked his Catholic friend Damien to be best man when he married fiancé Carol Magill.

The murders made international news only weeks before the signing of the Good Friday Agreement.

Four Banbridge men were jailed; Stephen McLean, Noel McCready and Ryan Robley were given long sentences while David Keys was also arrested and killed in the LVF wing of prison on remand.

Philip Allen’s 74-year-old mother, Ethel, says she will never forgive them.

“No, nor forget. I couldn’t,” she told the Irish News. “I don’t know whether that’s because I’m not religious.

“I don’t know how anyone can stand up and say that ‘I forgive them for what they done’, I can’t.”

Philip could have been happily married and given her grandchildren, she added.

She believes the gunmen, McLean and McCready, knew her son and his friend.

“I don’t know why they picked Philip and Damien but I was told that they owed £1,000 for drugs and if they killed two Catholics that was their bill paid for. And that came from a reliable source.”

According to Brian Canavan, whose mother Bernie was running the pub that night, the killings brought the mixed village even closer together.

“David Trimble and Seamus Mallon were rowing at the time. But they both walked together through Poyntzpass to each families’ house in front of the television cameras. It had a major impact,” he said.