Victim’s son: unless IRA admit their killings were wrong, I fear return of bloodshed

John Eaglesham with a picture of his father Jack, who was murdered 40 years ago today
John Eaglesham with a picture of his father Jack, who was murdered 40 years ago today

A man whose father was murdered by the IRA 40 years ago today says that unless republicans tell this generation that their killings were wrong, they are risking the return of bloodshed.

Jack Eaglesham, 58, from Castlecaulfield, was driving his post van at Rock near Cookstown, Co Tyrone when the IRA raked him with gunfire on February 7, 1978.

His son John told the News Letter that his father always ensured there was “no hate” in their home.

“We were taught that it did not matter where anyone went on a Sunday morning or Saturday night. We were all equal.”

John, who was 26 when his father was murdered, says he has “never met anyone who had a bad word to say about him”.

“He was a first-class man, serving in St John’s Ambulance and was in the Royal British Legion and the UDR.”

His father’s postal route took him through mixed areas and he had an equal number of friends on both sides of the community, he said.

“We knew what we were up against and that we were always under threat. But what hurts the most was the murder of an 11-year-old girl the following day in Maghera.”

An IRA under-car bomb killed UDR member William Gordon and his daughter Lesley. Nine days later the IRA firebombed the La Mon Hotel in Belfast, killing 12 and injuring many more.

The HET report into his father’s death told them nothing new, he said.

“My main hope for the future would be that this can never ever happen again.

“But I am afraid that the political situation in Northern Ireland at the minute is not conducive to that, because those involved in murder for 40 years have yet to tell the people they need to tell that what went on was wrong.

“They still glorify murder that was committed in support of a political view. But unless they are prepared to do that we are risking the whole thing happening again in the not too distant future.”