The son of one of the victims of the Sean Graham bookmakers’ massacre has said the leader of the UDA/UFF did not tell the people of the Lower Ormeau “anything new” when he recently stated the five killed were innocent.
Tommy Duffin was speaking after UDA chief Jackie McDonald used this month’s anniversary of the slaughter to say the five who died – Jack Duffin (66); Willie McManus (54); Christy Doherty (52); Peter Magee (18) and James Kennedy (15) – were innocent.
However, Mr McDonald, who was in jail at the time of the February 1992 attack, stopped short of apologising for the murders, saying he couldn’t because he was “not part” of the attack.
A UFF statement at the time attempted to justify the killings with a statement ending with the phrase ‘Remember Teebane,’ a reference to the bombing of a van carrying eight Protestant workmen through Teebane Crossroads in Tyrone three weeks previously by the IRA.
The April 1992 edition of loyalist magazine New Ulster Defender also stated it was in retaliation to the IRA killings, adding that the Ormeau Road was “a cesspit of republicanism”.
Tommy, son of oldest victim Jack Duffin, said the words from the UDA meant nothing to the families because the casualties’ innocence was known already.
“We all knew at the time that these people were innocent. The people of the Lower Ormeau are not stupid and know none of those killed were involved in Teebane, so how could it be carried out in that name?
“I have a very low opinion of Mr McDonald in the first place but I don’t understand why he was even speaking about this. The anniversary was about Sean Graham’s bookmakers and the atrocity that occurred there.
“If he said anything, it should have been sorry for what his organisation did to five innocent people but he couldn’t and it’s clear he wants no part of it.”
Speaking during the anniversary earlier this month, Mr McDonald conceded the five deceased were innocent victims.
“If there had been a war between loyalism and republicanism, I’d have rather seen them taking the war to each other, not to the communities. But that’s where it took everybody.
“It was part of a numbers game in which innocent people usually suffer. But I can’t say sorry, because I wasn’t part of it.”
The massacre was carried out by two UFF gunmen with a rifle and Browning pistol, the latter of which was handed over to the paramilitary group by RUC officers. Tommy said the claims made by the UFF at the time were extremely hurtful.
“The organisation said we lived in a cesspit of republicanism, which anyone who knows the Ormeau Road knows is not the case. For the organisation Mr McDonald represents to say that was totally unfounded and tarred my father and everyone else as something they were not.
“Then 20 years later the leadership turns round and says they knew the people were innocent from the start. It just shows Mr McDonald’s organisation are a law unto themselves.”