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Another Father’s Day dawns, but for families of two slain RUC officers, justice never shows up

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Tomorrow is Father’s Day, one of those occasions which my late dad would have described as a “funny old time”, meaning it wasn’t a particularly great experience for those who find it defined more by loss of a loved one than jokey cards, comedy socks and boozy lunches.

He said the same thing about Christmas, which I resented because it felt like he was putting a dampener on the celebrations. But then Dad died and I understood exactly what he meant.

This ran through my mind after reading the moving appeal for information by the now grown-up children of two RUC officers, Constable John Graham (34) and Reserve Constable David Johnston (30), murdered 25 years ago in Lurgan by two gunmen who ran up behind them and shot them at close range.

The families want justice for their fathers, or what counts for justice now. As Abbie (32), daughter of Constable Graham explained, under the Good Friday Agreement, “if the killers were caught and jailed, they could only do two years”. If the Legacy Bill passes, they’ll get nothing as no one guilty of pre-GFA crimes will face court. “We really feel we are running out of time,” Abbie said.

It’s just happenstance that this year’s anniversary fell days before Father’s Day, but the timing brings added poignancy.

Mr Graham had three daughters — Abbie, seven when her dad was murdered, Rebecca (10) and Katie (2). Abbie’s last glimpse of her father was when she headed off to school: “He was sitting in the kitchen with my younger sister on his knee, feeding her peanut butter toast”.


© Belfast Telegraph

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