Oregon killer’s IRA fascination ‘chilling’, says victim

Aileen Quinton described Martin McGuinness's comments as 'sick'
Aileen Quinton described Martin McGuinness's comments as 'sick'

IRA victims have given their reaction after hearing that the Oregon gunman was party inspired in his actions by a fascination with the IRA.

Chris Harper-Mercer, who killed at least nine people in Thursday’s rampage at a college, posed with a gun in a Myspace internet page.

The page contains pictures of masked IRA gunmen, a picture of the front page of An Phoblacht which carries the headline ‘British Army Could Not Defeat IRA’ and a photograph with the words “IRA undefeated army”.

Aileen Quinton, whose mother Alberta was killed in the IRA Poppy Day bombing in Enniskillen in 1987, said: “It is just chilling.

“It obviously resonates and doesn’t surprise me that someone who admired that evil would commit evil.”

Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness expressed his sympathies to the victims. “I was shocked and saddened to hear that so many young people have been shot dead in a deranged attack, in what should have been a place of safety and learning,” he said.

But Ms Quinton described his comments as “sick”.

“There are lots of places in Northern Ireland that should have been safe which were made unsafe by Martin McGuinness’ organisation,” she said.

“It should have been safe to stand at a war memorial in Enniskillen in 1987. It should have been safe for Arlene Foster [MLA] to be on a school bus when she was a child – but she was injured by an IRA bomb planted on it.

“The Co Fermanagh primary school where George Saunderson was principal should have been safe in 1974 too. But the IRA came in and shot him dead in the school canteen.”

Anne Travers, whose sister Mary was gunned down by the IRA in 1984, said her thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the dead and injured “including the family of the gunman”.

She added: “A very serious and dangerous message has been sent out around the world; terrorism and wrong doing is rewarded and those who have no regard for the ultimate human right – the right to life – are hailed as heroes, peacemakers even.

“I feel deep sadness for the families and friends of Chris Mercer’s victims.“