Greysteel attack united community, priest tells memorial service

  • 31 October 2013
Scene outside
Image caption On 30 October 1993, two gunmen entered the Rising Sun Bar in Greysteel where people inside were attending Halloween celebrations.
Scene outside
Image caption The men started shooting in what was claimed to be a revenge attack for the Shankill bombing a week earlier. Eight people died and 13 were injured.
Stephen Mullan
Image caption Stephen Mullan, 20, was shot dead alongside his girlfriend Karen Thompson.
Karen Thompson
Image caption Karen Thompson, 19, was the youngest victim of the attack.
James Moore
Image caption James Moore, 81, was the father of the bar's owner
Moira Duddy
Image caption Moira Duddy, 59, was sitting with her husband and friends when the gunmen started firing.
Joseph McDermott
Image caption Joseph McDermott, 60, was well known and liked in the village of Greysteel
John Burns
Image caption John Burns, 54, was one of two Protestants killed in the shooting.
Image caption Two other people in the attack. John Moyne, 50, who died protecting his wife from the attack and Samuel Victor Montgomery, 76, who died in April 1994 from injuries sustained in the attack six months earlier.

A remembrance service has been held in Greysteel, County Londonderry, 20 years after eight people were murdered at the Rising Sun bar.

The hour-long service took place in the Star of the Sea church in the village.

A priest said that the attack had united, not divided, the community.

Two gunmen from the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) opened fire on the bar on 30 October, 1993. They shot dead seven people and another man later died of his injuries.

At first, customers thought it was a Halloween prank as the gunmen shouted "trick or treat" before opening fire.

Image caption Prayers were said at the short cross-community service

The eight people who died were John Burns, Moira Duddy, Joe McDermott, Victor Montgomery, James Moore, John Moyne, Stephen Mullan, and Karen Thompson.


A number of Protestant ministers attended the anniversary Mass.

Fr Patrick Mullan told the congregation: "Far from driving a wedge in our community that horrific event, in fact, had the opposite effect, bringing us all closer together as brothers and sisters in Christ."

A homily was given by Fr Stephen Kearney, who was a priest in Greysteel at the time of the massacre and was one of the first people on the scene.

He paid tribute to the victims, and said that rather than seeking revenge, or justice, for the killings, they had used their pain in a way that gave comfort to others.

The church service was followed by a short cross-community service at the memorial to the dead close to the bar.

Prayers were said and the names of the victims were read out.

After that service some people attended a reception in the Rising Sun bar.

Terry Moyne's brother John was among the eight people who were murdered by loyalist gunmen.

"He was a family man, worked really hard and always sat by the door in the bar so he was probably one of the first victims," said Terry.

"I was in the city that night and someone said there was a shooting in Greysteel and I struggled to get any communication with John. It was chaos from then on in.

"John's wife and children were the real sufferers. They were here tonight to remember him.

"I have never been back in the bar since. That week was a big turning point in the Troubles, but it brought people to their senses too.

"Most people have their fingers crossed that such trouble will never come back."

The 1993 attack followed an IRA bombing on the Shankill Road in west Belfast just days earlier, in which 10 people, including one of the bombers, were killed.

Image caption The victims of the Rising Sun attack are named on a memorial close to the bar

Torrens Knight was given 12 life sentences for the Greysteel massacre and the separate murder of four workmen in Castlerock, both carried out by the loyalist UFF.

Four other UFF men were also given eight life sentences for the murders.

'Healing mechanisms'

One of those who died in the attack was 59-year-old mother of five, Moira Duddy.

Martin Duddy, Moira's son, told the BBC that staying strong through prayer is the only option.

"My mother was dedicated to her family. She was shy but caring and a loving woman," he said.

"We have our own healing mechanisms and we have kept together. We have to.

"At the time it was total shock and disbelief, but we are a good family unit.

"We haven't really talked about the anniversary. We have our own thoughts and let it be. We are in a better Northern Ireland and I hope we have lasting peace here and that everyone can talk together.

"I can't really think about those who carried out this atrocity. I look on the good and thankfully for the next generation we are living in a better Northern Ireland."

'Absolutely frantic'

Adrian McAuley was a paramedic on duty the night of the killings. He said the anniversary was poignant.

"We came back to our base when we got a call to go to the Rising Sun bar to a shooting," he said.

"We turned off the main road and there were about 20 or 30 people outside the bar. They were absolutely frantic, waving their arms in shock.

"I saw people shot and wounded lying on the floor and slumped in their seats.

"The sound of crying and screaming was overwhelming."

Mr McAuley said he had to bring in extra resources to deal with the incident.

"Shootings were nothing new to the ambulance service, but this was on a scale that I had never seen before," he said.

"Your job at the time is about treatment and transport, so you didn't really get time to think about it.

"That first sight mixed with the smell of gun smoke will never leave me."

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