Information sought over horror arson attack

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Relatives for Justice have appealed for information to help a family who were targeted in a sectarian fire bomb in 1976 in which three lives were lost.

Joe Dempsey, his wife Jeanette, and their daughter Brigeen, aged just 10 months, all died after a loyalist petrol bombing in the New Lodge area of Belfast.

The triple murder was linked to the unionist paramilitary UVF, who attacked three homes in the Hillman Street area on the same night. While arrests were made, no one was ever charged in the murders.

In recent years concerns have been raised about the investigation and a complaint has been lodged with the Police Ombudsman. Details have now been revealed in a report published by campaign group Relatives for Justice.

In a horrific tragedy, the family couldn’t escape because they had security grills on their back windows, but were seen trying to get the baby out.

Local man Danny McNally recalled how he tried to save the young family after the alarm was raised, suffering severe burns as he searched through the blazing home until he reached a bedroom. Tragically, it was too late, and the sight of the young father holding his daughter continues to haunt him.

“That image has never left me over all of these years,” he said. “I still have nightmares about the incident. I have often thought about that terrible night, of Joe, Jeanette and their child. They were only young people starting out in life.”

The Relatives for Justice report reveals that while he made a statement to the RUC police, they never visited him in hospital or since.

Paul Butler from RFJ appealed for anybody with information about the murders to come forward “to give the family some answers as to how their loved ones were killed”.

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