Linda Duffy: ‘They keep telling us to move on... but they won’t let us’

40 years ago, Creggan father of six Harry Duffy was killed by a plastic bullet. His daughter, Linda, reflects.

Tuesday, 25th May 2021, 8:02 am
Harry Duffy's children follow his coffin as it is carried from St Mary's Church, Creggan.

I have been trying for weeks to write something about the 40th anniversary of my father’s death, but I can’t. My anger is so real that it stops me, writes Linda Duffy.

May is a hard month for our family. It comes every year and I feel like I’m holding my breath until it’s over.

My father Harry Duffy, known as Harry ‘Dundalk’, was killed by the British Army in the early hours of May 22, 1981. He was struck by a plastic bullet in the head. His death left me and my three brothers and three sisters as orphans. It shattered our lives.

HAPPY TIMES... Harry and Bridie Duffy with some of their children outside their home in Creggan.

I could write about how much we loved our father, what a great man he was, how much he is missed, that he did everything for us after our mother died, that it was so hard for him as a single father - but he really did his best and loved us and we were happy. That is all true, but it isn’t enough.

I have so much anger at how the British government is treating families like ours, who had parents and brothers and loved ones killed by their soldiers. We can’t grieve his loss like other losses because it won’t let us.

A few weeks ago, the government said it was bringing in an amnesty, effectively taking ‘justice’ off the table. I never thought we would get a prosecution for my father’s murder, but that isn’t the point. We have a right to be told how and why our father died, to have an investigation into his death, because that’s what we werepromised, and that is our human right. But the British government keep moving the goal posts.

They set up the Historical Enquiries Team (HET) which came to us, knocked on our door, opened this up again and promised us that it would investigate his death. It didn’t.

For ten years, we have been stuck in limbo, waiting for something to happen and now this - an amnesty. It is cruel, disgusting and more than an insult.

Our family has endured so much loss in our lives. We lost the mum that we loved equally as much as our father. We had other losses, too. But this loss is the one we can’t move on from because they won’t let us. We are stuck in this loss. It has taken me thirty years to realise that and I am angry.

This isn’t about murder. This isn’t about prosecutions. This is about basic human rights, basic civil rights. The British government is putting iself above the law. People in Britain need to know what it is doing to us here, and how it is using these laws to kill people today in other wars in other countries and getting away with it.

I think of the Ballymurphy families, and all families, who have had 40-50 years of being tortured. They have had to fight every second of those years for the truth to be acknowledged.

They tell us to move on, but they won’t let us.

I think of my family, and our children, who have missed out on the life they should have had because of what happened to my father.