Soldier killed in Ballygawley bomb had 'paid to come out of Army'

Media caption,
Richard Greener, who was killed in the Ballygawley bus bomb, was set to leave the Army

The sister of a soldier killed in the Ballygawley bus bombing has said her brother was due to leave the Army just months after the attack.

In her first ever interview, Susan Greener said she "still thinks" of her brother Richard every day.

The 21-year-old was one of eight soldiers killed by the IRA bomb in County Tyrone in August 1988.

Ms Greener said he had "already paid to come out of the Army" when he was killed.

Speaking to BBC Radio Ulster's The Sunday News programme, Ms Greener described her brother as "very funny, very loving and so laid back".

'I heard my dad crying'

She said he "wasn't worried or upset" about being sent to Northern Ireland.

"If my mum said anything he would say 'that's what I am paid for, I am there to look after them.' He had no prejudice. He was actually going out with a Catholic girl," she said.

Image caption,
The bus was travelling between Ballygawley and Omagh

Three decades on, Ms Greener recalled the moment she heard the news that her brother had been killed.

"I was in the house. My eldest daughter was five months old at the time and my mam and dad had been looking after her and they rang us because they had seen it on the news," she said.

Press was 'camped outside'

"I went round and I was actually changing the baby's nappy when the MOD (Ministry of Defence) turned up.

"I just heard my dad crying, which I had never heard in my life before. The press was camped outside, so I was trying to protect them (mum and dad) from that. To be fair I can't remember a lot of that day after that."

Ms Greener revealed that her brother had put in place plans to leave the Army months after the attack.

"He was supposed to be coming out that Christmas, him and his friend were setting up a business to do roofing, so he had actually already paid to come out of the Army when he was killed."

Recalling her feelings ahead of her first visit to the scene five years ago for the 25th anniversary, Ms Greener said she "didn't really want to come the first time".

"It gets easier every time I come over. Everybody is so nice and welcoming. It is not what I thought it would be," she said.

"I don't think I have grieved properly still. It got pushed back. It is just a case of getting on with it. I still think of him everyday."