Service to remember baby Alan on 50th anniversary

Sunday 24 July 2022 10:00

THE family of baby Alan Jack, who at just five months old was killed by a bomb five decades ago, have urged that his name be heard.

Yesterday (Tuesday), July 19 marked 50 years since the young boy was killed by an IRA car bomb in Strabane in 1972.

Whilst no-one has ever been held accountable for Alan's death, the Provisional IRA admitted responsibility.

This weekend on Sunday, July 24, a special service of remembrance and thanksgiving for his life will take place at at 12pm in Leckpatrick Parish Church, Ballymagorry.

Ahead of the service, an emotional statement from his family read: “Alan was a five-month-old baby who was treasured by all of us. He was born on February 19, 1972.

"At the time of his death his parents William and Barbara, both now deceased, were aged just 27 years and 23 years respectively.

"They had their whole lives ahead of them with their two boys - baby Alan and his brother Robert, aged just two years old.

“The family home had been re-located to Strabane only a matter of days. Previously William, Barbara and the boys had lived in Ballymagorry for about a month with William’s parents and before then, Barbara and the boys had been staying in Cork with her family.

“At 12.10pm on Wednesday, July 19, 1972 a worker at Linton and Robinson’s shop reportedly saw a beige coloured Morris 1100 car parked in Canal Street. The car was causing an obstruction (and) he asked another member of staff to announce over the intercom for the owner to remove the vehicle.

“At 12.30pm a tanker driver was then said to have taken a wrong turn in Strabane and found that his route was blocked by the Morris 1100 car.

"He sought the assistance of bus driver and conductor to move the car, as it was unlocked. All three men pushed the car from Canal Street, towards Abercorn Square."

At about 1.05pm that day, an anonymous phone call was made to Strabane RUC station warning a bomb had been planted in the town centre and would go off in 20 minutes.

The caller said the bomb had been planted outside the Linton and Robinson’s shop.

Five police officers went to the scene where they found two unattended cars.

Barbara came out of the Argosy sweet shop in Abercorn Square with Robert and Baby Alan, who was in his pram.

She was told by the police to "move on" as there was a car bomb somewhere in the area.

"Barbara hurried away and as she passed the Ulster Bank, the bomb exploded causing glass in 30 nearby buildings to shatter," the family statement continued.

"Cruelly a piece of quarter inch plate glass fell from a window in the Ulster Bank into the pram hitting baby Alan in the head and face. He didn’t stand a chance.

“It is a source of frustration and disappointment for the family that no-one has ever been arrested or interviewed for the murder of our little Alan.

“There is little ever said of our baby Alan but his life mattered to us. He was truly an innocent whose life was erased before it had barely even started.

"We have never received an apology or acknowledgement for what happened. Alan’s life was not for others to take.

"It was a terrible blow and for William and Barbara and they were truly devastated. Yes, there were siblings born but there was always this emptiness - baby Alan was never forgotten by our family, nor will he ever be forgotten”.

“Yes, he is the youngest victim of 'the Troubles', but for us and most importantly, he was ours and he was loved so much."

The family say they are indebted to the church for their assistance with the service and to South East Fermanagh Foundation's (SEFF) "for all the organising support given over preceding weeks."

Kenny Donaldson, director of SEFF, has been supporting the family.

He said: “We have been privileged to support the Jack family in recent years.

"At the point little Alan was murdered, the crime was largely brushed aside. The family were made to feel that his life had limited value - for them Alan meant everything.

“The murder of a child so young was and remains a tragedy and in this milestone anniversary year it is important that Alan Jack’s name is heard, and heard loudly.

“In 1972 there was very limited access to technology and sadly alike the majority of homes, a camera was not something that the Jack family possessed.

"Tthere exists no photograph of little Alan. He was denied that very right to have his identity captured through a photographic image

“The Provisional IRA are responsible for what unfolded that fateful day in Strabane - no-one else - and it is a calamity that no-one has ever been held accountable

“The Jack family were never given any focus down the years. They were left to deal with their pain and to try to survive themselves, belatedly it is important that their loss is fully acknowledged and we pray that the upcoming service will offer the family a form of recognition and support then in their ongoing journey of healing."

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