Greysteel families hold vigil to mark 25th anniversary of massacre
THE families of victims killed in the Greysteel massacre gathered in the Co Derry village on Tuesday night to mark the 25th anniversary of the atrocity and to urge politicians to make sure it never happens again.
Families attended a special Mass at Star of the Sea church at 7.30pm followed by a memorial service outside the Rising Sun bar where eight people were killed when UDA gunmen burst into the bar on the night before Halloween in 1993.
One of the gunmen shouted "trick or treat" before he opened fire. Seven people were shot dead. An eighth person later died from his injuries.
The dead were
- John Burns
- Moira Duddy
- Joe McDermott
- Victor Montgomery
- James Moore
- John Moyne
- Stephen Mullan
- Karen Thompson
Victims' campaigner Alan McBride, whose wife Sharon and father-in-law John Frizzell were killed in the Shankill bombing a week before the Greysteel killings, was among those who attended Tuesday night's vigil.
Monsignor Andrew Dolan paid tribute to the "positive and dignified" response of the Greysteel families over the years to "such an evil deed".
He said that during a recent meeting with the families, they noted "we are living in shaky times", with people uncertain about how things are going to turn out.
He said they asked him to relay the message to public representatives to do "all you can to ensure this never happens again".
"I hope you are listening," he added to those gathered in the church which included a number of politicians.
- 'The smell of gun smoke is something I have never forgotten' says Greysteel Massacre paramedic
- The violence of the Troubles was visited on a quiet village
- Greysteel killings ended one of Troubles' darkest weeks
SDLP leader Colum Eastwood, his predecessor Mark Durkan, Alliance leader Naomi Long, Sinn Féin MLA Caoimhe Archibald and Ulster Unionist councillors Richard Holmes, Norman Hillis and William McCandless were among those present.
A number of Protestant religious ministers were also there.
Following the service, hundreds of people gathered at the Rising Sun bar. The families of those killed laid wreaths and bouquets of flowers at the memorial plaque.
The Greysteel shootings were claimed by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) who said the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) had carried out the attack in retaliation for the IRA's bombing of a fish shop on the Shankill Road in Belfast the week before.
Ten people, including one of the IRA bombers, died in that attack.
In response, the UDA orchestrated a series of so-called "revenge" attacks against Catholic civilians.
The horrifying series culminated in the Greysteel shootings.
Alan McBride, whose wife Sharon was amongst those killed in the Shankill bomb, attended the memorial event in Greysteel.
"This is my first time in Greysteel, I wanted to be here on the 25th anniversary to show my support and solidarity with the families because we all suffered and the people that murdered my wife and the people that murdered in Greysteel were two sides of the one coin in terms of bringing terror, hurt and anguish to many families," he said.
In February 1995, four men were convicted of carrying out the Greysteel shootings.
Stephen Irwin, Jeffrey Deeney, Torrens Knight and Brian McNeill received life sentences for their involvement in the attack.
However they were released early in 2000 under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.
Christine O'Donnell was on a hen night in the bar when she was shot in the abdomen.
"I didn't actually realise I had been hit," she told the BBC. "I just felt a burning sensation in my stomach."
- From the archives: Greysteel Rising Sun victim speaks for the first time
- From the archives: Bloody death-toll followed in the wake of Shankill bomb
Ms O'Donnell said she knew almost everyone who had been killed.
"I saw them all lying on the floor and it wasn't a pretty sight.
"I was very fortunate. Put it down to good posture, or bad posture, but the bullet that hit me missed everything vital."