Dublin UVF bomb victim condemns SDLP and Alliance Party over TUV appointments bill

A man who is having his 60th operation today to remove shrapnel from the UVF Dublin bombing 47 years ago has expressed ‘disgust’ at political parties who declined to exclude people with serious criminal convictions from public appointments.

Tuesday, 28th September 2021, 4:00 am
Edward O'Neill will have his 60th operation today to deal with injuries from the UVF bomb in Dublin in 1974.

Last week MLAs voted against a TUV bill by 48 to 40 that was attempting to ban people with serious convictions from appointments to public bodies.

TUV leader Jim Allister specifically mentioned Sinn Fein’s Gerry Kelly, a member of the Policing Board. and Paul Kavanagh, a Sinn Fein appointment to the Education Authority, before the vote.

Mr Kavanagh served 14 years in prison for an IRA bombing campaign in England in 1981, which included an attack on Chelsea Barracks in which two civilians were killed and dozens injured.

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Mr Kelly was convicted on charges related to the 1973 IRA Old Bailey court bombing in London and was one of 38 IRA prisoners who escaped from the Maze prison in 1983.

Dubliner Edward O’Neill and his father and brother were caught up in the UVF bombing of Dublin 1974 which killed 33 people and an unborn child. His father, also Edward, died trying to shield his two sons from the blast.

Mr O’Neill told the News Letter he is “furious” with Alliance and SDLP MLAs who opposed the bill.

He also said that comments from Naomi Long about the bill were “just insulting”.

“As for the SDLP I’m disgusted at them. I go for my 60th operation this Tuesday to remove bomb shrapnel from my spine and I’m still dealing with my injuries while the likes of Kelly and Kavanagh profit from their crimes at the expense of people like me.”

He added: “Naomi Long gave out this nonsense that the bill goes against the essence of the Good Friday Agreement and against prisoner rehabilitation. I am all up for prisoner rehabilitation but in order for someone to be rehabilitated they must show remorse.”

He said he was not aware that Mr Kelly or Mr Kavanagh had ever shown any remorse in relation to their convictions.

He added: “How is bomber Paul Kavanagh qualified to sit on the Education Board deciding education policy for Northern Ireland schoolchildren?”

Kenny Donaldson, spokesman for Innocent Victims United, said: “This bill was dubbed ‘regressive and backwards’ by some, but the truth is that Northern Ireland needs to go back before it can meaningfully go forward.”

Specifically challenging the SDLP and Alliance Party, he asked: “How do you propose to stop those with serious terror convictions from holding positions on institutions and authorities which are an affront to decency and who continue to psychologically terrorise those who have already suffered so much within this society? Where’s your blueprint to address this?”

Sinn Fein, Alliance and the SDLP were invited to comment.

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