The cousin of two Catholic brothers murdered by Billy Hutchinson in 1974 responds to the PUP leader’s attempt to justify his actions.
I’ve often wondered why Billy Hutchinson has never spoken about what he, as an 18-year-old, did to my cousins on that clear, sharp October morning in 1974.
Now I know.
He’s still stuck in his world of victimhood as much as he was when he was jailed, when my father - a man proud of his WWII medals - was in court to hear the self-pitying cry of ‘my only crime was loyalty’.
No, Billy. It was murdering Catholics. For being Catholics.
The morning you turned your car round to drive down the Falls and kill them is as clear now for me as it was 40 years ago.
My cousins were labourers, as was their father.
They wanted to get a black taxi down the Falls but there was only room for one. The father got in and they walked.
You killed them because they were there.
You’d have shot their father, a Protestant, as well if he had been with them.
I had just turned 12 and was sitting in a huge new school when I was taken out of class to see my father, waiting in the school office.
I spent the next two days watching thousands of people, young and old, come through the open door of my granny’s tiny living room in a terrace house off the Springfield Road where my cousin Eric had lived.
A few albums on a shelf (Tubular Bells at the front), a pile of Military Modelling magazines, a box of paints and miniscule brushes for painting tiny pewter Napoleonic figures for war games - and that was it; all he left.
And the sobbing, the uncontrollable sobbing, of my father bent over his coffin in front of thousands in a packed St Paul’s on the morning of the burial, that brought embarrassment to a selfish 12-year-old boy.
I have the bus token and the few coins he had in his pocket from that morning.
I have the pewter figures, painted by a solitary man who wanted to escape from the world around him.
I’ve been back to Cupar Street and Bombay Street to see their names on the memorial.
They aren’t in the republican section, Billy. There were no death notices, flags or paramilitary displays - then or since - because there was no reason to have them there.
The “intelligence” you speak of; was it simply one or both of them looked familiar?
Maybe you had burnt them out of their house a few years before?
Was it the same intelligence that everyone who was a taig was a Provie?
The same “intelligence” that Gusty Spence, a relative of my father, had used in 1966 to do just what you did that clear, sharp October morning?
The idea that any taig will do, Billy? Well it won’t.
The IRA didn’t kill them, Billy. You did. And it is you who has to live with that.