‘My hope for justice for Gerald will never end’

editorial image

A Portadown woman has said she has never given up hope of justice for her murdered husband, who was brutally shot dead 42 years ago.

But as new evidence has emerged that may connect the killings of Margaret Thompson’s husband and his two friends with the atrocities at Kingsmills and Darkley Church, the mother-of-three admits she cannot help but feel cynical that the link may not result in anyone being charged.

Gerald Thompson (34), an electrician, was gunned down in a hail of IRA bullets, along with UDR Sergeant and butcher Alfie Doyle (28) and John Presha (30) who worked for the electric board, just after they had crossed the border near Newry. The three friends were on their way back from Cork, where they had achieved success at a dog show.

Two ‘first prize’ tickets, each with a bullet hole, were found among their luggage.

Gerald and Alfie were from the Killicomaine area, and John hailed from Lisburn.

Said Margaret, who is also a grandmother of three, “One piece of recent evidence suggests that the same Armalite was used in the Kingsmills massacre and the Darkley Church killings, but the bottom line is that nobody has been charged, and that is what we all want.

“I’m not one of these people who says that a line should be drawn under the Troubles – we’d love to see justice. But by the same token, after the triple murder, we had to get on with life.

“I had the responsibility of educating and rearing three children.

“I know I’ve been strong, and had to do things like learning to drive. We had such a close family bond with Gerald. We went so many places with him and the dogs, and won at Cruft’s. But that weekend in Cork was just too far away.

“We miss him terribly, but we simply had to get on with it – just like Alfie and John’s people. We’ve been through various stages of inquiries, with ombudsmen and HET among them. But the bottom line, in my opinion, is that they’ll never get the killers of Kingsmills (January 1976 when 10 perished) of Darkley (November 1983 when the murder of three elders was dramatically recorded on the church tapes), or of our three victims.”

But that doesn’t mean that Margaret has given up hopes of justice in the long run. “You hold onto the slight hopes that something will turn up, but you don’t let it spoil your life. I adore the children and grandchildren and they have been a tremendous support. I don’t think the pursuit of justice should ever end.

The security forces were swamped during the 1970s and 1980s with murder after murder, many of them multiple. On top of all that, they were the prime target of the IRA, with UDR man Alfie Doyle one of the victims.

“They were dreadful times,” said Margaret. “But our family pulled together and we came through it.”