Northern Ireland news

Diane Dodds recalls `pandemonium' during IRA attack at hospital where her son was being treated

Nigel and Diane Dodds pictured with son Andrew, who died in 1998.
Paul Ainsworth

DUP MLA Diane Dodds has spoken of the "pandemonium" that broke out when the IRA carried out an attack at a hospital where her son was being treated.

While discussing the safety of MPs and other politicians in the wake of the murder of David Amess, the former Stormont economy minister referred to the December 1996 incident at Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital during which IRA members shot and injured an RUC officer who was guarding the DUP's Nigel Dodds.

It was speculated at the time that there had been a plan to assassinate both the RUC officer and Mr Dodds, who would go on to become MP for North Belfast in 2001.

Mr Dodds and his wife were visiting their seven-year-old son Andrew who was being treated for spina bifida. The couple had learned that their son, who died two years later in 1998 as a result of his condition, had been put back on a ventilator.

Mrs Dodds told BBC Radio Ulster's Evening Extra programme about the "huge commotion" that began shortly after they arrived at the hospital.

"The nurse came running out to say that another nurse in another ward had noticed people acting suspiciously," she said, explaining how "men with wigs" had been spotted in the vicinity.

The couple were "shoved" into an ante-room, Mrs Dodds explained, adding: "One nurse who came out to tell us of the danger was actually almost thrown to the floor.

"We heard the gun shots and pretty much...pandemonium in the hospital."

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