Red Bank man testifies about his shooting in 1972 in Northern Ireland

Posted By: March 13, 2014

 Asbury Park PressMar. 13, 2014 Written by Malia Rulon Herman @mrulon

WASHINGTON — A Red Bank man said Tuesday that, decades after he was wounded in a
drive-by shooting in Northern Ireland in 1972, he still wants answers.

>“These people carried out heinous crimes in Ireland and something has to be done,”
Eugene Devlin of Red Bank told members of the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee
on global human rights. “People just want the truth.”

Devlin, 60, grew up near Belfast. He told lawmakers he and a friend were coming
home from a school disco when a car followed them and shots rang out.

 “I fell wounded, whilst my companion managed to get over a hedge,” Devlin said,
telling lawmakers that he later learned he was hit by a 9mm bullet, fired from a
British sub-machine gun. The shootings, he claims, were carried out by the
Military Reaction Force, a subset of the British Army.

 Devlin, who runs the Dublin House restaurant and pub in Red Bank, said he’s still
living with the effects of his injury, while his attackers “have generally been
rewarded with pensions, promotions and medals.”

 “There is a message in that,” he told lawmakers.

 The subcommittee, chaired by Republican Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey, has
oversight of human rights issues. Testimony regarding past violence in Northern
Ireland could influence legislation expressing the view of Congress on the issue,
according to a spokesman for Smith.

 The two groups established by the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement to investigate
unsolved crimes in Northern Ireland — the Historical Enquiries Team (HET) and the
Police Ombudsman of Northern Ireland — have made little progress, according to
Richard Haass, former U.S. special envoy to Northern Ireland and the independent
chair of a recent effort to address the lingering problems of Ireland’s past.

Of the 3,000 deaths that occurred between 1968 and 1998, the HET has reviewed only
600 cases involving 800 deaths, he said.

 “It’s time to move to a better system,” Smith said in his opening remarks.

 Haass and Baroness Nuala O’Loan, who served as the first police ombudsman in
Northern Ireland after the Good Friday agreement, said an independent commission
with full investigative power should be formed to look into the crimes.

 Geraldine Finucane, wife of slain human-rights lawyer Patrick Finucane, said
people keep telling her to leave the past in the past, but until the truth comes
out, she can’t. She wants those who ordered her husband’s 1989 killing held
“It has never been an ‘in-the-past’ issue — not for me or anyone in Northern
Ireland,” she said.
 Devlin told lawmakers that no one is calling to “hang people from a flagpole.”
 “They have to come out and tell people what went on,” he said. “It doesn’t matter
how you pin it, these were criminals. But God almighty, the people who brought the
orders have got to be brought to justice.”
Democratic Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of California agreed, saying peace in Northern
Ireland is critical.
“You’re right,” he said. “You deserve to know who was involved in that. You
deserve to know if the British government was involved. You deserve to know that
and the public deserves to know that.”
 Smith, who has held more than a dozen hearings on peace and justice in Northern
Ireland, said that without accountability, it is difficult for people to support
or participate in a new government.
 “There can be forgiveness, but that does not mean justice,” Smith said.
“Accountability is the pathway to justice, and we are here to seek justice for
those who suffered horrific acts of cruelty.”