A former PSNI chief inspector says a reenactment of PIRA attacks on the streets of Londonderry could trigger PTSD attacks and cause trauma to victims of terrorism.
Peter Murtagh, whose brother in law was murdered by the IRA, was speaking after the PSNI confirmed it had advance notification of public re-enactments of “recent” PIRA terror attacks on the streets of the city.
They were carried out by masked men armed with replica weapons on Saturday.
However, critics claimed the event constituted the offence of ‘glorification of terrorism’ and that the recent gun attack in Las Vegas shows such use of automatic weapons is “nothing to be celebrated”.
Mr Murtagh said: “This re-enactment romanticized and glorified terrorism and a one-sided narrative of those who were going out with the intention of carrying out premeditated murder.
“This is completely insensitive to innocent victims of the Troubles who lost loved ones.
“How would the organisers of this event feel if acts carried out against members of their communities by loyalists had been re-enacted? There would be a public outcry.
“You could almost describe it as a recruitment event for dissidents. They are still active, still use the name IRA and use very similar tactics.”
Peter joined the RUC in 1988 and retired from the PSNI in 2016 as a chief inspector.
Born in Belfast, he now lives in the Lisburn area and works as an advisory support worker for victims of terrorism. He knew around a dozen police officers who were murdered by the IRA.
“I was talking to an ex-police officer recently and he was saying how items on the news still trigger his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and he is retired about ten years.”
However contrary to TUV leader Jim Allister, Peter believes the re-enactment would fall short of the offence of glorification of terrorism.
“They could argue they had no intention of encouraging violence,” he said.
But he adds: “I note the re-enactment did not show any IRA members using baseball bats or sledge hammers to go out and punish members of their own community.”
His brother-in-law Jackie Hagan, an off duty RUC officer, was shot in the back of the head by the IRA in front of his pregnant wife at a greyhound stadium in north Belfast in 1994.
“I remember my mother-in-law after he was shot. She was sitting clutching my four-month-old daughter and rocking back and forwards, crying hysterically. She was devastated. She never got over it.”
His sister in law was left to raise their three children alone. Their unborn son never got to see his father, he said.
“They are going about in paramilitary uniforms but the photos do not convey the cold and callous way they murdered innocent individuals who were going about their daily business.
“They would just walk up behind people and shoot them in the back of the head.
“Everything is still so raw for victims of these type of attacks. The feelings and emotions are still too raw for victims to be exposed to this on the streets of Northern Ireland.”