In the wake of further revelations regarding ‘On the Runs’, tonight’s platform piece comes from Ann Travers, who speaks movingly about the effect her sisters murder and attempted murder of her parents has had on her and her family to this day. The recent debacle, while being played out by politicians in the media, is having a devastating impact on many victims at home. Most of those do not have a voice. We are glad to be able to host a piece from Ann, who has campaigned and worked hard on victims issues. Other victims have also contacted us today, extremely distressed at further OTR news. Most are worried about obtaining justice, something which has kept focus for many victims, while trying to rebuild their lives. Others are worried that the letters issued by the British Government to a select group of people will mean that similar arguments will be made in favour of blanket amnesty and immunity from prosecution, or that it will now be used to shelve investigations such as that into Bloody Sunday. All victims of all atrocities during past decades deserve to be listened to. Vixens calls on all those who are in positions of responsibility to hear them, and to act in a transparent way regarding making decisions which affect them, in the future. It is despicable that side deals can be done by politicians, agencies and administrations, and that the people who are affected most by those decisions, those people who have already suffered imaginably, are continuously kept in the dark. Ed.
On Sunday evening I left my elderly mother after spending the weekend with her. We had had many conversations including one about Mary and how she brutally lost her young life. She didn’t only lose her future – getting married, having children, progressing in her teaching career and spreading such joy every time she played the concert harp – we – as her family, lost our relationship with her and all that it held.
I miss her particularly now as I deal with various health issues. In 2012 I was diagnosed with breast cancer and watched with envy as I saw one sister accompany another while she went for results, scans and treatment. It struck me just much I missed Mary not there to hold my hand and support me, to show her my mastectomy site and discuss reconstruction, and how I missed her recently while I waited for a CAT scan to see if the cancer has returned. How I wish I could have her to accompany me for those results, sharing a coffee and a sandwich in the hospital cafe and how I missed her when last month I went for genetic testing and talked through my family history. I felt the tears sting my eyes but I held them back as I told the genetic counsellor that my sister was murdered in 1984 and I don’t know if she would have developed cancer. Oh God. I miss Mary so much! I know however that her presence is always with me, but I yearn for that physical being and to hold her. There are some events in a girls life when she needs a sister. The IRA ensured I wouldn’t have mine.
My parents, especially my Dad lived with the guilt of what happened on the 8th April 1984, not only for Mary’s loss but the subsequent effect it had on my brothers and I. Mum lost her best friend. Mary had reached the lovely age of adulthood when true friendships thrive with parents. We all lost our privacy, having to have 24hr police bodyguards, I remain eternally grateful to the men and women of the RUC who looked after us and had light hearted banter with me a young teenager. Most of all Mum and Dad lost their family, or how it should have been. The pain and distrust of what had happened and what was going on around us drove us all away. My Dad passed away peacefully on the 29th December 2009, leaving Mum with none of her family immediately around her. I can’t do the simple things with mum on a whim, and I miss that. I can’t just pop in for a cuppa and to check on my lovely mum, sit and watch an Agatha Christie or Inspector Morse, it’s a 2 hour drive.
So as we remembered Mary and Dad as we often do, I felt that familiar emptiness and sadness as i said goodbye to her. Mum didn’t want to leave her home and why should she? She has a companion when we aren’t there during the week so we know that she is safe but this wasn’t how it was meant to be.
The IRA by choosing to attempt to murder my parents and succeeding on murdering Mary saw to that, the ripple effects are far reaching on all of us – 30 years later from the actual event.
Yesterday’s news about John Downey and today’s media debates about the “On The Run’s” and who knew what, has plunged me into an utter depression. No matter how hard I try to look on the bright side and continually speak up for acknowledgement and no justification of any murder, I feel so desperately sad for our loss and the loss of thousands of others. The politicians who we trusted to look after our best interests, especially at such a vulnerable time as the Belfast/Good Friday agreement; have let us down and those who we love, but who arnet here any more as the result of others actions.
All victims have the right to justice, there is no excuse for murder or severely injuring people, and nobody should be above the law.
This afternoon I listened to Stephen Gault describe on Talk back how he was injured in the Enniskillen bomb at the age of 18 and came around to see his 49 year old dad lying beside him his head “opened up like an egg” . The horror of that day and witnessing his father decapitated has never left Stephen and for years he and many others have campaigned and searched for justice for that day. The pain in his voice was evident, at the fear that due to these recent events they may never get justice. Eleven people were murdered that day and a 12th victim Ronnie Drew went into a comma, never recovered and died 13 years later. Who has the right to deny these families justice? Who has the right to deny any family justice? Don’t the dead have rights too? If it is discovered that Mary’s murderer was one of the OnThe Run’s will she also have no right to justice? Are families to be drip fed this constant re traumatising? Are they to continually be presented with devastating news via the media? Will no one take responsibility and ensure widows, widowers, sons, daughters, brothers and sisters, and those injured aren’t impacted so cruelly and left alone to weep and feel disregarded? Because that is what is happening. People are suffering, mostly in silence, in homes, right at this minute.
In the meantime, I will spend another short weekend with my heart broken Mother, awaiting that day for when some have a moral conscience , when they apologise with no preconditions for robbing our lives, when they say there was no justification for any murder, give information which will lead to justice for my innocent sister Mary and all victims and be prepared to serve their paltry 2 years. The strength and love for my sister is keeping me going, as I know the love others have for their families keeps them going for the same reason. Holding our politicians, and those who chose to commit crimes like the murder of my sister to account.
Ultimately though, nothing will bring our loved ones back and our lives that should have been.