By Jonathan McCambridge, PA
A man who lost his father and was left with life-long injuries following the 1974 Dublin bombings has said a service of remembrance in Co Monaghan is a chance to remember “forgotten” victims of terrorism in Ireland.
Victims’ organisation South East Fermanagh Foundation (SEFF) will host its 10th annual Service of Remembrance and Thanksgiving later on Sunday at St Tighernach’s Church in Clones.
Organisers said the theme of the event this year is acknowledging “hidden victims of the Troubles in the Republic of Ireland”.
Among those in attendance will be Edward O’Neill, who was just four years old when he was caught up in the blast on Parnell Street, part of the Dublin/Monaghan series of bombs.
No one has ever been convicted over the four no-warning bombs on May 17th, 1974 which claimed 35 lives, including two unborn babies.
The attacks have been blamed on loyalist paramilitaries.
Mr O’Neill was in the city centre with his brother and his father, also called Edward.
He said: “I was four years old, walking out of the barber shop.
“My dad had me by his left hand and my brother by his right hand and he was swinging my brother.
“My brother pulled a button off his coat.
“He bent down to pick up the button and the bomb exploded.”
Mr O’Neill is still receiving treatment for the injuries he received that day, including skull fractures, a broken jaw, fractured cheekbone, collapsed lung, first and second-degree burns and severe lacerations to both legs.
He has undergone more than 60 surgeries.
His mother Martha was heavily pregnant at the time and went on to lose her baby.
Martha junior’s name was added to a memorial for victims on Talbot Street earlier this year.
Mr O’Neill said: “It is like groundhog day with me every single day because of the injuries.
“It just devastated everybody, my whole family.
“Victims of the Troubles in Ireland have been forgotten.
“This is why the service of remembrance is incredibly important, because we have been overlooked by successive governments.
“It has always been a case of hoping we will be quiet and go away.
“The Dublin and Monaghan bombings were the single biggest case of mass murder in the history of the Troubles and nobody has ever been charged or convicted for anything to do with it.
“All of us that are left are getting older.
“We are left to try and fight on for justice.”
SEFF director of services Kenny Donaldson said: “For several years SEFF has provided support to innocents impacted across that jurisdiction; whether police, army, prison service or civilians and also reaching those impacted by both republican and loyalist terrorism.
“The service will offer acknowledgement and recognition to individuals who have been all but forgotten by officialdom, who are denied services and access to supports which are available to their northern counterparts.
“On legacy both the UK and Irish states need to step up their responses; they need to cease burying their heads in the sand and instead respond to the legitimate needs of victims and survivors around justice and accountability.”