Northern Ireland

Co Fermanagh mother recalls "awful" gunfire from the night her 21-year-old daughter was shot and killed by the IRA 30 years ago

Jillian Johnston who was shot and killed by the IRA outside her family home near Kesh in Co Fermanagh 30 years ago
Jillian Johnston who was shot and killed by the IRA outside her family home near Kesh in Co Fermanagh 30 years ago

The mother of a 21-year-old woman shot dead by the IRA 30 years ago has recalled the events of that night.

Annabella Johnston, whose daughter Jillian was murdered on Friday March 18 1988, said she will never forget the “awful” gunfire she heard outside her home near Kesh, Co Fermanagh, which “terrified” her.

Ms Johnston was wounded by more than 20 bullets from an automatic rifle while sitting in a car with her fiancé outside her home after buying chips.

“She went to the café with her fiancé. They came home about 10.15pm and pulled up into the yard in the car. I was on my own at the time, my husband having gone out to visit neighbours,” Mrs Johnston said.

“I heard awful automatic gunfire. It seemed to go on and on I was terrified. I can remember the sound to this day.

“I rang my sister-in-law who lived nearby and she came. Just as she opened the door I heard Jillian’s fiancé calling out and lamenting. I ran out and the minute I saw Jillian I knew she was dead. I lifted up her head and it fell down again.

“That Friday night will be with me for ever. Jillian was buried the following Sunday. The postmortem revealed that at least 27 bullets had been found in her body.”

The IRA said the killing had been a mistake and that the intended target had been a family member who the IRA claimed was in the UDR. 

The IRA later said it had been mistaken about the UDR link as well.

Mrs Johnston also revealed that a few months later, two friends who had worked at the family’s farm were shot leaving Belleek Police Station.

“No-one has ever been charged with any of these murders,” she said.

“Thirty years on, we feel as a family that no-one will ever be brought to justice for the murder of Jillian. 

“However, it is our Christian belief that those responsible for this cowardly act will have to answer to God on their final judgement day.”