independent

Tuesday 25 September 2018

'Remember all the victims' urge family

ANNE CAMPBELL

THE FAMILY of a man who was killed in a bomb that prematurely exploded 40 years ago today has spoken for the first time about the loss of their loved one.

In a letter to The Argus, the family of John 'Jack' McCann, an Inniskeen lorry driver who was one of nine people killed when a bomb exploded at Newry Customs Clearance Centre on August 22 1972, said ' there is a duty of care on past and present generations to ensure that future generations do not have to live through or witness such pain and violence'.

Jack's daughters, Mary Casey and Kay Devlin, along with his grandson, Sean Casey, have signed the letter in which they outline the circumstances of the bombing where three IRA men died when it exploded prematurely.

Mr McCann, who was a 60-yearold married father-of-two at the time, was one of two lorry drivers who died in the blast, which happened shortly before 10 a.m. Three customs officials were also killed and a further six people were injured.

In the letter, the family says: 'It is not a case that these people were in the wrong place at the wrong time; they were exactly where they were supposed to be. Six of the victims were in the building for lawful reasons and were innocently conducting their normal day's work. Three of the victims were there for completely malign reasons but none the less they are all victims because they died as a direct result of other people's decisions'.

They also state: 'August 22nd 1972 was a terrible day of violence, in a relatively small town, where nine people lost their lives and unfortunately it has been forgotten and eclipsed by too many atrocities during the Troubles'.

And they call for an end to 'selective amnesia of what occurred in the past'.

The family says: ' We call on the main parties involved during this conflict, Catholic and Protestant, to remember all the victims who lost their lives down through the years and not just the select few.' To whom it may concern, ON THE morning of Tuesday 22nd August 1972, John (Jack) McCann, a civilian, left his house in Inniskeen, Co. Monaghan to travel to work as a lorry driver for MJ O'Rourke & Co Ltd in Dundalk. At 09:45 Jack was killed instantly when an explosive device detonated prematurely at the Newry Customs Clearance Centre.

Jack was 60 at the time of his death and left behind a wife and two adult children. The following people also died as a result of this explosion: Joseph Fegan, a lorry driver Patrick Murphy, a customs official Francis Charles Quinn, a customs official Michael Ronan Gilleece, a customs official Marshall Craig Lawrence, a customs official Noel John Madden, a member of the Provisional IRA

Patrick Aloysius Hughes, a member of the Provisional IRA

Oliver Plunkett Rowntree, a member of the Provisional IRA

A further six people were injured, one seriously.

It is not a case that these people were in the wrong place at the wrong time; they were exactly where they were supposed to be. Six of the victims were in the building for lawful reasons and were innocently conducting their normal days work. Three of the victims were there for completely malign reasons but none the less they are all victims because they died as a direct result of other people's decisions.

There are some who will, and have argued, as seen in the Irish presidential elections that: ' That's in the past'. To a certain extent we would agree but when it comes to the selective amnesia of what occurred in the past, then it is very hard to take that argument seriously.

The fallen victims of the main tribes involved in this conflict over the years, Catholic and Protestant, are on rolls of honour and are commemorated annually by each tribe but the other victims, whether they were random or intentional, are not acknowledged.

August 22nd 1972 was a terrible day of violence, in a relatively small town, where 9 people lost their lives and unfortunately it has been forgotten and eclipsed by too many atrocities during the troubles.

We are now in an era of peace where there is an established Government that represents the communities in Northern Ireland. In order to build on the trust gained to date everyone must remember the past and learn from it. There is a duty of care on past and present generations to ensure that future generations do not have to live through or witness such pain and violence.

Recent talks of unambiguous apologies to all victims of the troubles are to be welcomed. We view this move as a progressive step towards full acknowledgement of the grievous hurt endured by the victims and their families.

We call on the main parties involved during this conflict, Catholic and Protestant, to remember all the victims who lost their lives down through the years and not just the select few.

Sincerely, Seán Casey On behalf of: Mary Casey, Kay Devlin and the everlasting memory and soul of Jack

McCann, Rest in Peace.

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