Troubles victims to tell their personal stories at ‘inspirational’ Derry event

1990... The Coshquin bomb in which Derry man Patsy Gillespie died also claimed the lives of five British soldiers.
1990... The Coshquin bomb in which Derry man Patsy Gillespie died also claimed the lives of five British soldiers.

Victims of the Troubles are to tell their personal stories in Derry later this month.

The Truth and Reconciliation Platform (TaRP) will host an event at the Magee campus of Ulster University on September 13 (7.30pm).

Among those scheduled to speak at the event are Kathleen Gillespie whose husband, Patsy, died after the IRA strapped him into a van loaded with explosives and ordered him to drive to a British Army checkpoint on the outskirts of Derry in October 1990.

Also on the panel are Alan McBride, whose wife was killed in the Shankill bomb in 1993, Joe Campbell, whose policeman father was shot dead in 1977, and Stephen Travers who survived the Miami Showband Massacre in 1975.

Mr Travers, who formed TaRP with Eugene Reavey - who had three brothers killed in a sectarian attack in 1976 - says “real testimony by real people” about the consequences of violence must be heard across Ireland if it is to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past.

He added: “The doctrine of violence as an instrument of change must be exposed for the folly that it is.”

TaRP, says Stephen Travers, was established to give victims, regardless of their political, religious or cultural background, an opportunity to “speak for themselves, to tell their own story - in their own words.”

He says the group is committed to bringing “this inspirational presentation” to every county in Ireland, free of charge, in order to highlight the true, factual consequences of violence.

“Today, in Northern Ireland, the politics of suspicion and division are once again gathering for the perfect storm which can quickly convert public anger to violence,” he said. “Our organisation is already playing an important role in defusing such anger.”

“Great progress has been made in bringing peace to the island of Ireland but, sadly, true reconciliation on which genuine and lasting peace depends, continues to elude us.”

Mr Travers says he is convinced, now more than ever, that there is no more efficient deterrent to violence, a more effective antidote to radicalisation or a more valuable instrument of reconciliation than the testimony of the victim.

The TaRP event will take place at the Great Hall of Magee College on September 13.

It will be chaired by Professor Brandon Hamber, the Hume O’Neill Chair, INCORE. Admission is free and everyone is welcome.

The Irish government sponsors twelve TaRP presentations a year.