Cavan victims remembered

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A ceremony has taken place over the Christmas period to mark the 50th anniversary of a deadly loyalist bombing in Belturbet, County Cavan.

Two teenagers, 16-year-old Patrick Stanley and 15-year-old Geraldine O’Reilly, were killed when a bomb exploded at night on 28 December 1972.

The anniversary of the bomb was marked with a special Mass in the chapel in Belturbet, followed by a wreath-laying ceremony at the site of the memorial.

The bomb had been placed in a car on the Main Street. Eight other people were injured in the explosion. Two other no-warning bombs also exploded that day in Clones in County Monaghan, and Pettigo in County Donegal.

Wreaths were laid at the site of the deaths by representatives of Cavan County Council and Justice for the Forgotten. The families of the two victims of the bombing also laid wreaths during the ceremony.

In 2020, an Irish TV documentary on the anniversary of the murders revealed that British knowledge about a potential suspect was not passed on to the Irish authorities.

It was also revealed British army and police also held a secret meeting to discuss border ‘security’ shortly after the bombing. Minutes of this meeting and other intelligence documents are to remain sealed as a state secret until 2057.

Geraldine’s brother Anthony appealed to anyone with information about the bomb to “do the right thing” and come forward.

“Surely you cannot live easily with the murders of two innocent children on your hearts and consciences,” he said.

He recalled driving his sister into Belturbet for chips on the night of the bombing. He was injured in the blast, and has struggled with survivor’s guilt over the last 50 years. Mr O’Reilly recalled his sister as “beautiful and always happy”.

“She was at my side and loved nothing more than to accompany me when I would go out in the car for a drive, I brought her to her first dance at a local carnival, she would also have gone to football matches with me,” he said.

No-one has ever been brought to justice for the bomb attack.

Mr O’Reilly said both his family and the Stanleys, as well as others directly impacted, have “nursed an open wound”.

“We have been denied justice and accountability concerning who was responsible for the bomb and nor are we clear upon why it was done,” he said.

“As a family we have tried never to allow the events of that day to embitter us, we know that those who were involved in planning and also carrying out the bomb are not representative of a community.”

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