Danielle reflects on Boston trip

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A COOKSTOWN High School pupil has returned from the United States, having attended a conference themed around global terrorism.

Danielle Hamilton (14) who lost her grandfather to terrorism having never met him, was representing Justice for Innocent Victims of Terrorism Ltd (J.I.V.T Ltd) - a Northern Ireland-wide advocacy and representation based organisation.

The conference was held at Governor’s Academy in Byfield, Massachusetts from July 12 to 20.

Accompanying Danielle was Rachel Duncan, representing South East Fermanagh Foundation (SEFF) - a victims organisation based in Lisnaskea.

Danielle’s father David Graham was just 38 and in the UDR when he was murdered by PIRA. He was off duty and died ten days after being shot at his workplace in Coalisland on March 15, 1977, leaving behind three children as well as Danielle’s granny, Eileen.

Reflecting upon her experiences on the Project Common Bond in Boston with this year’s programme focused on the topic of ‘dignity’, she said when she got there, everyone was so nice, and loving.

“As people started to arrive it became reality that this was going to be an unbelievable opportunity for me to meet people from all over the world, who have been affected by terrorism, and to share our stories.”

“During the week, the quiet people shone out from the rest, and made more and more friends every day. We spent time doing workshops on music, dance, art, sports and drama, as well as doing some dignity classes. It was during our dignity classes that I became truly aware of how terrorism affects everyone from around the world,” she said.

“I have learnt that dignity is something that is very important to everyone and is needed in everyday life. When it was time to come home, I was very sad to leave a lot of new friends which I made, but I know that there’s always next year.”

Kenny Donaldson, Director of Services for SEFF and Company Secretary for J.I.V.T Ltd said Danielle and Rachel are a credit to their families, to Northern Ireland and to the J.I.V.T Ltd and SEFF organisations.

“It is important that the girls’ grandad’s names and legacies live on and I hope that the experience brings a degree of comfort, recognition and acknowledgement for not only the girls but also for the wider Graham and Keys families.”

“Rachel, Danielle and others in a global arena represented the message of innocent victims in Northern Ireland. That message was simple but clear, that it is essential that lessons are learnt in a society such as Northern Ireland which is trying to deal with its past,” he said.

And he added: “Everyone must understand (and for some this will be belated) that terrorism is not justified, it was never justified and there are no circumstances where the act of murder can be considered acceptable - no political cause can ever justify such actions.”

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