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Teebane relatives call for justice after no convictions in 25 years

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Teebane relatives call for justice  after no convictions in 25 years thumbnailCedric Blackbourne, from Karl Construction, lays a floral tribute at the Teebane memorial.

TWENTY-FIVE years after eight Protestant workmen were massacred by the IRA at Teebane, relatives of survivors are still fighting for justice.

Today (Tuesday) marks the 25th anniversary of the massacre and the Police have confirmed to the Courier they have "no active lines of enquiry" into the massacre.

A service was held at the scene of the murders at the Teebane Crossroads, between Cookstown and Omagh, on Sunday.

The sister of one of the men killed on 17th January, 1992, an atrocity for which nobody has ever been convicted, says justice will not have been done until there is a full inquiry into the murders. Ruth Forrest's 24-year-old brother David Harkness was among the eight men murdered, with a further six injured.

The firm for which he and the other victims worked, Karl Construction, had been targeted because they carried out work for the security forces.

Mrs Forrest said: "I don't feel as though we have got justice," she said.

"I'm angry that no-one has ever been convicted for what happened, or for taking my brother's life. He was so young. He has missed out on so much.

"There are still a lot of unanswered questions. A lot of men died, but I believe their deaths could have been prevented. I would like a complete inquiry into what happened.

"You hear about other Troubles-related killings, but you don't often hear about Teebane. There is a hierarchy of victims and we are the forgotten ones."

Her call is echoed by Kenny Donaldson, Director of Services at Lisnaskea-based South East Fermanagh Foundation, which has worked with several victims of the Teebane atrocity.

He said: "A new-found desire must exist within the political, criminal justice and civic spheres to practically support those impacted whether that be, in responding to justice, truth and accountability requirements for those impacted or the provision of necessary practical supports to ensure that those bereaved and injured are provided for as they battle daily living.

"Teebane does not receive the focus and attention which other cases involving multiple loss of life command - that is not right.

"The innocent victims and survivors of Teebane deserve equality, they must cease to have their case relegated to a place where it is given mere lip service."

A Historical Enquiries Team has previously carried out an investigation into the attack and produced a report.

It stated that bad weather on the day of the attack meant the IRA detonated the bomb as the men returned from work at Lisanelly Army Barracks, rather than on their way to work that morning.

Mrs Forrest stated that David had considered taking the day off and, when he did choose to work, chose to catch the minibus, something he rarely did.

David had been staying at his parents' home for a number of months and had planned to return to Australia for work.

Recalling the day of the atrocity, Mrs Forrest said: "Around 5.10pm I heard a bang. I opened the door and looked out and a neighbour shouted that a bomb had gone off somewhere.

"I could hear sirens and they were coming from the direction of my parents' house... then I heard a news bulletin saying workmen were feared dead in an IRA bomb and I fell to my knees.

"I told my husband Adrian that David was caught up in it. It was just a gut instinct. My sisters had that same gut instinct. We all knew something was wrong."

"At 9pm daddy's sister Heather phoned to tell us David was dead."

And Mrs Forrest says that only an enquiry "would be a fitting tribute to my brother and his colleagues who died".

In a statement, the PSNI's Legacy Investigation Branch confirmed they are not presently looking into the atrocity.

Detective Superintendent Jason Murphy, from the PSNI's Legacy Investigation Branch, said: "There are no active lines of enquiry at this stage, however, if further credible opportunities develop to further this investigation in the future, they will be pursued."

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