UDR relative slams 'hierarchy of victims'

THE brother of a UDR man gunned down in the weeks leading up to Bloody Sunday has hit out at what he calls the "hierarchy of victims".

Lisburn councillor Ronnie Crawford has vivid memories of January 1972 and the news that his 38-year-old brother had been shot and killed by the IRA at a building site in Newtownabbey.

Part-time UDR sergeant, Maynard Crawford, was attacked by an IRA gunman as he waited in a van to take workmen home from a site on the King's Road.

Cllr Crawford says he regrets that not all victims have been treated equally and that "republicans never let things go" if they think there is "mileage in something" which can be used to attack the British.

"The Bloody Sunday victims were killed during a spontaneous riot, and the deaths are regrettable, but others have been deliberately and brutally murdered and we are just expected to forget and move on.

"The 190 million spent on the inquiry was ridiculous as it was an act of appeasement to republicans. Tony Blair was responsible for that and I have more contempt for Tony Blair than for Martin McGuinness or any other member of the IRA past or present," Mr Crawford said.

"Each victim's family remembers in their own way at anniversaries and the like, but all of the victims were individuals and deserve to be remembered equally."

Maynard Crawford left a wife and two sons who, as his brother explains, did their best to get on with their lives.

"I think there is something in the Protestant psyche about the terrorists facing judgment from a higher authority some day that helps you overcome being consumed by bitterness.

"The thing about victimhood and republicans is that they want to go over the same thing time and time again – the way they have done with Bloody Sunday," Mr Crawford added.

"My sister-in-law was a widow and never remarried after Maynard was killed. She did well for her family and because of her attitude the two boys have done well for themselves too."

The Lisburn UUP councillor says he has been "sickened" by the amount of money spent on the Bloody Sunday inquiry while other victims "have been forgotten" and feels many people like deputy first minister Martin McGuinness have "escaped proper scrutiny" over their own actions.

"At the time of the Maze stadium debate and proposal to have an H-Block museum, myself and Edwin Poots had a meeting with Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness.

"It came into the conversation that I had a brother shot by the IRA and McGuinness asked me if he had been killed. When I told him he was, McGuinness said he was sorry to hear that – but I informed him that he himself had given the oration at the gunman's funeral a few weeks after my brother's murder.

"McGuinness said it couldn't have been him as he would have been in Londonderry and not Belfast, but according to the Irish News archives it was Martin McGuinness. He approached me afterwards and said ‘God bless you Ronnie’.”

The IRA man believed to have been responsible for murdering Maynard Crawford was Joseph Cunningham.

Cunningham was fatally wounded by police as he attempted to kill another UDR man in the same area on February 10, 1972.

Cllr Crawford said that he refuses to harbour bitterness which he equates to “adopting the mindset of the terrorists”.