Anthony and Marie O’Reilly.

Victim’s brother’s appeal

The brother of a teenage girl killed in the Belturbet bomb blast has remembered his beautiful, intelligent and caring young sister on the 50th anniversary of her death.

Anthony O’Reilly was with his sister Geraldine (15) on the night of the bomb, having driven her into Belturbet for chips. He was physically and psychologically injured as a result of the attack and says he carried survivor’s guilt for many years.

“I remember Geraldine as a beautiful sister who was always happy, who was at my side and loved nothing more than to accompany me when I would go out in the car for a drive. I brought her to her first dance at a local carnival. She would also have gone to football matches with me,” he said in a statement released to the Celt.

“Marie (my wife) and I were blessed to have her as an on-call, live-in babysitter for Caroline, our eldest daughter, whose birthday is 29th December. Caroline was to have her first birthday the day after the bomb - her birthdays ever since have been tinged with sadness,” revealed Anthony.

“Geraldine was a very intelligent young woman, she was creative and a proficient Irish dancer. She had two cousins (Marie and Bernice McAleer) who nursed in Monaghan hospital and her eldest brother Michael was a teacher and she almost certainly would have entered one of these professions - most probably nursing due to her very caring personality,” he continued.

“For 50 long years, our family, the Stanleys and others directly impacted by the bomb have nursed an open wound. We have been denied justice and accountability concerning who was responsible for the bomb, nor are we clear upon why it was done. We were and are a non-political family, with relationships and friendships with people from across the community and also on both sides of the border,” said Anthony.

“There were awful cruel things done that year of 1972 and right throughout The Troubles. Neighbours turned on neighbours and many people became estranged from one another. There was division brought, which has never fully healed. As a family, we have tried never to allow the events of that day to embitter us. We know that those who were involved in planning and also carrying out the bomb are not representative of a community,” he continued.

“We appeal as a family, who have been hurt, for those responsible and others who have information concerning those events to come forward and do the right thing. Surely you cannot live easily with the murders of two innocent children on your hearts and consciences,” implored Anthony.

His family thanked the gardaí for their work and ongoing investigation to bring the perpetrators to justice.

“We commend An Garda Síochána for the diligent and thorough way in which they have sought to advance the case in the last 12 months and more. We have a renewed hope that justice and accountability might yet prevail and we also thank the council for their efforts in ensuring that the anniversary is appropriately marked,” concluded Anthony.

A special mass will take place in the chapel in Belturbet at 11am tomorrow (Wednesday), December 28, 2022, followed by a wreath laying ceremony at 12 noon at the site of the memorial.