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Survivors of Troubles in Republic 'need equal treatment'

Anthony O'Reilly (left) and Joe Stanley lay a wreath in 2012 at a memorial to victims of the Belturbet bombing. Photo by Lorraine Teevan
John Monaghan

SURVIVORS of Troubles-related attacks in the Republic should be entitled to the same assistance as northern victims, a man injured in a car bombing has said.

Anthony O'Reilly, from Belturbet in Co Cavan, suffered physical and mental injuries after surviving an attack in the town in December 1972.

It was one of three loyalist bomb attacks in the Republic that evening.

Two people, including Mr Reilly's 15-year-old sister Geraldine, were killed, with at least 12 others injured when the bomb exploded outside the town's post office.

Geraldine O'Reilly had been ordering chips, while Co Offaly teenager Patrick Stanley, aged 16, was ringing his parents from a phone box to tell them he would not be home that evening.

The UVF is believed to have been responsible, but no-one has ever been convicted.

Mr Reilly's wife Marie said the bombing was a "horrific start to our married life."

She said her husband "remembers stumbling and being on the street".

"No-one can understand how he wasn't killed. They brought him into the chip shop and he identified Geraldine's body.

"We had a one-year-old daughter at the time. He was extremely nervous all the time and would get very agitated. He blamed himself for driving into the town to get chips.

"Anthony couldn't talk to anyone about it. There was no counselling. He became dependent on me, instead of him being the head of the family."

As a result of the trauma, Mr O'Reilly turned to alcohol and experienced serious health problems.

But despite a small amount of compensation, those living in the Republic are not entitled to higher rates of disability living allowance applicable to people injured in the north.

Mr O'Reilly said: "I would like more financial assistance, of course. I never will forget it until the day I die."

Joe Stanley, the father of Patrick, died earlier this year without seeing his son's killers brought to justice, despite a long campaign for an inquiry.

Mr O'Reilly added: "Joe Stanley's life was devoted to getting justice. I think the chances of prosecution would be slim now. I would think there is a few of them dead now. I would say that there was collusion involved, yes."

Campaigner Kenny Donaldson, of Innocent Victims United, said the predicament of the O'Reilly family demonstrates that a new financial package is needed.

He said: "DLA is too blunt an instrument in being used as the core criteria at assessing the needs of the physically and psychologically injured.

"Other workable criteria must also be developed which ensure that ROI-based victims/survivors are not discriminated against as well as others located across the United Kingdom."

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