Northern Ireland news

Aine McCabe: 'My entire childhood was stolen from me'

Mother-of-three Nora McCabe was killed by a plastic bullet in 1981

AINE McCabe doesn't have any memory of her mother, Nora. She says she's sometimes jealous when she meets people who do.

"People stop me and say 'I remember your mother'. I feel like saying 'It's well for you'. I don't, they're only trying to be nice, but it hurts."

On July 9 1981, the west Belfast mother-of-three rushed out to a nearby shop to pick up essentials but never returned, shot in the head at close range with a plastic bullet from a passing RUC patrol.

She died the following day in hospital from her injuries.

None of her children will be entitled to a victims' pension as they were not present at the time and did not witness the event.

"I was just three months old when my mummy died. My two older brothers were six and three at the time," said Aine.

"I was raised by my Granny McCabe, my daddy's mummy. My granny was old school, she didn't think a man should be raising a girl on his own.

"He kept the two boys with him, I'd see them almost every day. I grew up like that, it's all I knew so I didn't notice any difference.

"When we got older I understood the situation, but there was resentment there. I would think why didn't my daddy want me and why did he want them.

"As an adult you realise that wasn't the case. Now me and my brothers are really close, we don't go a day without speaking".

Aine has suffered years of post traumatic stress that started after the birth of her first child.

"It was when I had children of my own, that's when I really felt it, that's when it hit me.

"When I had my Nora, they kept you in hospital for five days. All the other people had their mummy visiting, I didn't have that.

"I had my granny and my aunts, but it's not the same.

"My second daughter was born on July 3, a week before my mummy's anniversary - that hit me really bad.

"I took post natal depression and had to go to a counsellor.

"I was raising my girls, their first steps, first tooth, all of that, so then I knew what she had missed out on. I never had her and she didn't have me.

"It's really had a big impact on me as a parent. I'm convinced history will repeat itself.

"When my children were babies I kept thinking I was going to die and they wouldn't remember me.

"I made up wee scrapbooks just in case. When my son was born I set up an email and sent him voice notes and pictures of us together.

"Things that I would have wanted but never had."

Aine says the treatment of bereaved victims is a "shameful stain" on the legacy process.

"It makes me really angry. We were in our house at the other end of the street, my mummy went to the shop and never came home.

"I don't want to speak for my brothers, but this has impacted our entire family.

"The government are saying we're not as much a victim because we didn't see our mother murdered, even if we had seen it we were only children, we wouldn't have remembered anyway.

"You can't put one person's experience against someone else. It is totally unfair, demeaning and makes me really angry - my entire childhood was stolen from me.

"My father went from being the man of the house to be being a single father and losing the love of his life.

"We've all suffered, but our loss is being graded as less than someone else. How's that fair, how's that just, how's that even allowed to happen?"

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