Billy Hutchinson’s explanation for his sectarian murders has been covered below by David McCann. Unfortunately they degenerate into concepts like “Truth recovery”, “ethnic thematics” and such like. The News Letter have provided somewhat more direct responses.
Kenny Donaldson of Innocent Victims United said that Mr Hutchinson’s attempted justification of his murders “bore all the hallmarks of the same sick delusional thinking that is prevalent within the republican movement”.
Referring to the UVF slogan ‘For God and Ulster’, Mr Donaldson said: “Nothing that the UVF did was for the advancement of Ulster and the perpetration of criminal terrorist acts against neighbours was certainly not in the name of God…His trite comment ‘I wouldn’t expect middle-class unionists to agree with what I did’ is deeply insulting. Believing in the sanctity of life and being opposed to murder is not an issue which breaks down on the lines of social class.
“In border areas of Northern Ireland such as south east Fermanagh the minority community was systematically targeted by republican terrorists with 35 Protestants murdered yet none of those families affected nor the wider Protestant community sought to avenge the hurt and trauma inflicted. Why? Because they refused to bring to a neighbour’s door what had been brought to their own.”
Even more powerfully a relative of the two young men Hutchinson murdered has provided a response which is worth reproducing almost in full:
Billy. It was murdering Catholics. For being Catholics.
The morning you turned your car round to drive down the Falls and kill them is as clear now for me as it was 40 years ago.
My cousins were labourers, as was their father.
They wanted to get a black taxi down the Falls but there was only room for one. The father got in and they walked.
You killed them because they were there.
You’d have shot their father, a Protestant, as well if he had been with them.
I had just turned 12 and was sitting in a huge new school when I was taken out of class to see my father, waiting in the school office.
I spent the next two days watching thousands of people, young and old, come through the open door of my granny’s tiny living room in a terrace house off the Springfield Road where my cousin Eric had lived.
A few albums on a shelf (Tubular Bells at the front), a pile of Military Modelling magazines, a box of paints and miniscule brushes for painting tiny pewter Napoleonic figures for war games – and that was it; all he left.
And the sobbing, the uncontrollable sobbing, of my father bent over his coffin in front of thousands in a packed St Paul’s on the morning of the burial, that brought embarrassment to a selfish 12-year-old boy.
I have the bus token and the few coins he had in his pocket from that morning.
I have the pewter figures, painted by a solitary man who wanted to escape from the world around him.
I’ve been back to Cupar Street and Bombay Street to see their names on the memorial.
They aren’t in the republican section, Billy. There were no death notices, flags or paramilitary displays – then or since – because there was no reason to have them there.
The “intelligence” you speak of; was it simply one or both of them looked familiar?
Maybe you had burnt them out of their house a few years before?
Was it the same intelligence that everyone who was a taig was a Provie?
The same “intelligence” that Gusty Spence, a relative of my father, had used in 1966 to do just what you did that clear, sharp October morning?
The idea that any taig will do, Billy? Well it won’t.
The IRA didn’t kill them, Billy. You did. And it is you who has to live with that.
There is not much you can add to that.
This author has not written a biography and will not be writing one.