Dismay fills tiny parish with feeling of justice left undone
IN the small parish of Ballygawley -- where friends and neighbours of Michaela McAlreavey's have been glued to the Mauritian proceedings -- there was a palpable sense that justice had quietly passed them by.
Like most Northern towns on the 12th of July, shop shutters were down, the streets virtually abandoned -- and there was little to be heard apart from the sound of distant traffic and marching bands.
It was an eerily apt silence.
"People will feel that justice hasn't been done," said Fr Michael Seery, the parish priest who saw the popular young woman married and buried in the space of a few short weeks last year.
"Whenever you brought it up people would talk about the terrible time that the families had gone through. There was a feeling that John seemed to have aged a lot during the trial."
A shopkeeper packing up as the local Orange Lodge marched up and down the all but deserted road outside frowned at the prospect of the families' futures.
"It's been a rough year for those people and it will be a rough year to come," he said.
"Is that it now? As one woman said to me, if they hadn't gotten off, then those boys would have put in for an appeal and then the families would have had to go back there. I don't know."
That sense of disorientation over the outcome was clear. In the bars and outside shops, many seemed unsurprised at the acquittal but stressed that someone should have been brought to justice.
Standing on his doorstep in the centre of the town, Eugene Mallon reflected on the sense that justice had slipped them by.
"It's another blow to the community. Someone has done this and the people who have done this need to get a sentence," he said.
"I know Mickey Harte and the young fellas (in the family) very well. It's a terrible blow to the whole family. People are just stunned," he said.
"We were always hoping that there would be justice, but at the end of the day someone has gotten away with murder."