BELFAST, Northern Ireland – The family of a man murdered in 1996 by paramilitaries is speaking out against being excluded from payments for relatives of those killed during the Troubles.
Deirdre Owens, aged 54, was left to care for her 11-month-old twin boys after her fiancé, John Fennell, was beaten to death in a feud between rival factions of the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) in Bundoran, Co Donegal. At 40 years old, Fennell, a founding member of the republican paramilitary group, was fatally bludgeoned with a breeze block.
In light of the Victims’ Commissioner’s suggestion that all families who lost loved ones during the Troubles should be compensated, including relatives of paramilitaries, Deirdre and her son Fionntan, now aged 28, shared their family’s experience and their perspective on the moral arguments about who deserves payments.
Deirdre, who lost her job after Fennell’s murder, highlighted the financial struggles she faced and her inability to afford full-time childcare, leading to a lack of stable employment. She advocated for bereavement reparations rather than compensation and emphasized the profound impact the loss had on their family.
Speaking about their father’s involvement in the Troubles, Fionntan reflected on the complexities of their family history and the differing opinions and assumptions others hold about them. He stressed the need to hold everyone accountable and navigate the legacy of their father’s actions.
The family’s story sheds light on the multifaceted and deeply personal impact of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, compelling a reevaluation of the criteria for payment eligibility for victims’ families.