‘Stop wasting generations in bloodshed’

A soldier surveys the aftermath of he IRA attack on an army bus at Ballygawley, Co Tyrone, which killed eight of his colleagues and injured 19 others on 20 August 1988. Photo: Pacemaker
A soldier surveys the aftermath of he IRA attack on an army bus at Ballygawley, Co Tyrone, which killed eight of his colleagues and injured 19 others on 20 August 1988. Photo: Pacemaker

A survivor of the Ballygawley bus bombing - which took place 30 years ago on Monday - has urged people across Northern Ireland not to ‘waste’ any more generations in bloodshed but to “get on and live” and make the most of the potential the people and beautiful countryside.

Richard Jutsum, 56, survived the IRA attack which claimed the lives of eight of his solider colleagues on 20 August 1988, injuring 19 others. They were returning from leave and targeted as they made their way back from Belfast airport to their base in Omagh.

Richard Jutsum was a corporal on the army bus which was blown up by the IRA at Ballygawley in Co Tyrone in 1988.

Richard Jutsum was a corporal on the army bus which was blown up by the IRA at Ballygawley in Co Tyrone in 1988.

Mr Jutsum, who is from Somerset but now lives in Lincolnshire, was on his second tour in Northern Ireland when he was caught up in the bombing. He still suffers hearing and eyesight damage and arthritis as a result.

“I have come back to NI twice since in the last few years and I must admit it had been really good,” he said. “It was just nice to see NI as NI, because it is an amazing country with beautiful natural resources - lakes and hills - and it has just so much potential that has been held back by the Troubles.”

But recognising that the past has still not been resolved, he offered a personal message to NI.

“Just look out of your windows and look at the country you’ve got and just get on with living. You are just wasting generations... there is so much potential in NI in its people, in the country that they just need to get on and live. He added: “People need closure on incidents. Sadly that is probably never going to happen for a lot of people. There is always going to be anger and bitterness but ultimately people have got to try and move on because otherwise the country will always be held back.

“But you just have to be able to move on. Not necessarily for your own sake but for the sakes of your children and the generations coming after you, because it has gone on for too long.”

He still has some anger towards the bombers but would not say that he is bitter. “The more conflicts you are involved in you just realise that actually physical violence just doesn’t solve anything. Ultimately the lads who died have died but it is their families have to carry on living with it.

“And there are obviously thousands of families in Northern Ireland that are doing the same for their loved ones on both sides.

“And that is the frustration, that it was needless because, it didn’t achieve anything for either side really.”