Thursday 23 January 2020

Mountbatten anniversary 'reminder of dark days no one wants back'

Lisa McKean lays a wreath for her brother Paul Maxwell. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Lisa McKean lays a wreath for her brother Paul Maxwell. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

The 40th anniversary of the bombing that killed Lord Mountbatten and three others serves as a stark reminder of dark days no one wants to return, a service for the victims was told.

The commemoration of the fishing boat blast that killed Queen Elizabeth's second cousin, two members of his family and a local boat boy should be used to rededicate people to the causes of reconciliation and justice, a cleric said.

Church of Ireland Arch-deacon Isaac Hanna told those gathered on a rainswept clifftop just outside the seaside village of Mullaghmore, Co Sligo, that no family should again have to experience the trauma endured by those bereaved by the IRA attack in August 1979.

The parents of Paul Maxwell, the Co Fermanagh teenager who was working on the boat when it blew up, were among those there to remember.

John Maxwell and Mary Hornsey and their daughter Lisa McKean listened as Archdeacon Hanna spoke of a day when "innocence was lost".

Rescuers and medics who responded to the incident joined them, as did former staff of Classiebawn Castle, the holiday home where Mountbatten stayed on his frequent fishing trips to Ireland.


As well as killing the great- uncle and mentor of Prince Charles and 15-year-old schoolboy Paul, the bomb on the Shadow V also claimed the lives of Lady Doreen Brabourne (83), the mother-in-law of Mountbatten's daughter, and his grandson Nicholas Knatchbull (14).

During the service, John Maxwell read verses from Seamus Heaney's Cure at Troy.

"So hope for a great sea-change on the far side of revenge," he said. "Believe that a further shore is reachable from here."

He then joined Paul's mother to lay a wreath at the simple green cross memorial overlooking the Atlantic.

Ms Hornsey later placed a single yellow rose on a plaque dedicated to the victims, kissing the flower before letting go.

Archdeacon Hanna told the service that the people of Mullaghmore stood with the bereaved, and the bombers had not succeeded if their goal was to strike fear into people.

"Fear can have a stifling effect on those who are coerced and are intimidated in any way, and perhaps that was the intention that day, but the opposite has been the effect," he said.

"Today is as much about rededicating ourselves to the cause of justice, the cause of reconciliation and the cause of freedom so that no person should have to go through what you as a group have gone through."

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