Tonight I learned that the one person convicted of murdering my grandmother has died.
In the coming hours and coming days some will spit words of bitterness whilst others will trumpet the life of Robert James Campbell. The death notices of killers in newspapers make for a sobering read.
None of these words sit easy with me and thankfully they are fleeting.
I had my own thoughts of Robert James Campbell when he was alive and I gathered these as words in my book. They will now be read as an epitaph to a cowardly mass murderer and shall outlive us both.
His crimes were horrific and his final appearance in my book when meeting one of our family members was a measure of both men:
John McGurk was only ten when he was pulled from the rubble by John O’ Hanlon, a Catholic man who was to have a horrible death at the hands of the UVF a few months later in July 1972. In late February 2011, John, who lost his mother, sister and uncle in the attack, knocked on the door of a Silverstream home in North Belfast. A 75 year old Robert James Campbell tentatively opened the door and invited John into the living room. Family portraits of the killer’s sons and grandchildren hung on the walls. John wished simply to ask him why he murdered his family all those years before and to offer him a chance of salvation. Campbell gave him nothing except for a hollow sorry for his mass murder:
“Sorry is only a wee word but it means a whole lot, you know. That’s all I can do for you, boss”
Robert James Campbell was wrong in every way imaginable and I will think little else of him.
Ciarán MacAirt is an Irish writer and author of The McGurk’s Bar Bombing: Collusion, Cover-Up and a Campaign for Truth.
He also manages Paper Trail, an innovative charity and social enterprise which offers legacy archive research services and helps families unearth the truth hidden in public records.
Ciarán – who has written 95 posts on The McGurk's Bar Bombing: Collusion, Cover-Up and a Campaign for Truth.
- Time For Truth March February 8, 2018
- Time For Truth – Walk With Us February 1, 2018
- The McGurk’s Bar Massacre and the Role of British Agents December 15, 2017