Northern Ireland news

Robert Bradford: UUP MP to be remembered 40 years on from his murder

Ulster Unionist MP Rev Robert Bradford. Picture by Pacemaker

ULSTER Unionist MP Robert Bradford, who was shot dead by the IRA in 1981, will be remembered in a low-key ceremony today on the eve of the 40th anniversary of his death.

The 40-year-old South Belfast MP was killed at his advice clinic at a community centre on Benmore Drive in Finaghy.

Three IRA men posing as workmen came to the building on the morning of November 14 1981.

The centre's caretaker, 29-year-old Kenneth Campbell, was also killed in the attack.

Representatives from the UUP, including party leader Doug Beattie, will hold a short ceremony at Finaghy Community Centre at 9.30am today.

Rev Bradford's widow Norah Bradford will also attend.

Mrs Bradford (73) has recently written a new book about her life entitled When Time is Taken.

Flowers will be laid at the centre, followed by a moment of reflection.

The event is being organised by Stephen McCarthy, the first Ulster Unionist representative from a working-class Catholic background to run in an assembly election.

Mr McCarthy, whose grandfather was murdered by loyalist paramilitaries, is to stand in South Belfast in May's poll.

He said the anniversary of Rev Bradford's death was particularly poignant, coming less than a month after the murder of Conservative MP Sir David Amess in Leigh-on-Sea.

Like Rev Bradford, Sir David was killed while he was holding a surgery for constituents.

In 2016, Labour MP Jo Cox was killed as she prepared to hold a constituency surgery in the village of Birstall.

"Whether it's David Amess or Jo Cox there's an awareness of the risk of putting yourself out there," Mr McCarthy said.

"It's unfortunately coincidental that they (Sir David, Ms Cox and Rev Bradford) were all targeted when they were in their constituency services offering help to the most vulnerable."

Mr McCarthy said the event would be held today because "Sunday is Remembrance Day and party members will be at different events".

He said he was mindful that many UUP members attending today's event did not know Rev Bradford personally. He said there were no plans for anyone from the party to make a speech.

Mr McCarthy said the UUP aimed to reflect on its own history in a considered and respectful manner.

"There maybe has been a localised, low-key approach in the past," he said.

"There is a desire that the party will have a more centralised approach."

In December 1983, UUP assembly member Edgar Graham, who had been tipped as a future leader of the party, was also killed by the IRA.

Tory MP Airey Neave, the Shadow Secretary of State, was killed in March 1979 by an INLA car bomb attack at the House of Commons.

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