Marie Breen-Smyth, Associate Dean International of the University of Surrey speaks to members of the South East Fermanagh Foundation in Lisnaskea. South East Fermanagh Foundation (SEFF) is a group of victims from South Fermanagh. It was formed in 1999.
“A substantial percentage of the people who are members of SEFF are from the security forces. That’s something unique to Fermanagh where there were very high levels of people joining the security forces.” Kenny Donaldson
Local businessman, Roy Kells had his shop bombed twice during the Troubles. He was shot at and survived. “SEFF is a very good institution for those injured and very helpful. I’m glad they’ve been able to help, we’ve had plenty of people from this area who have been badly injured”
Isolation can be a problem, especially for the elderly. William John Barton is over 80 years old. He no longer drives and SEFF provides transport for him. “They’ve been very good to me, if I’m stuck getting anywhere they’ll take me.” In 1972 ,William was shot while on his farm, he recovered from his injuries but a year later gunmen returned and shot him again. He survived the second attempt on his life. It had a traumatic effect.
“The youngsters were small at the time and it really frightened them, one lad especially, he couldn’t get settled at night.”
William was forced to move himself and his family to a new location. Losing his farm meant losing his livelihood. He received no financial help. “I got very little, the two compensations I got for those two incidents, I got £400 for the first one and £700 for the second, and I got no help, no counselling, it was years before I got anything.” SEFF was a welcome change for William after years of struggle.
On June 28th 1988, Ernie Wilson was a school bus driver and part time member of the RUC when the bus he was driving, which was filled with school children, was targeted by the IRA with a bomb. Injured, Ernie stopped the bus and managed to get the children off the bus. It was years before Ernie got any counselling.
“To be honest I had nothing until SEFF come, there was no counselling, but SEFF provided all that, I don’t think I would have got anywhere without them, I use a lot of their services, if I have a query I just get in the car and come up here, they have time to talk to you.”
Eric Glass was a dog warden and was lured to an isolated farm where he was shot by four members of the IRA. He shot one dead and managed to get away. “The biggest problem I had, was when I went into hospital, the lad that I shot dead was the same age as the son of mine and that played an awful big part in my life”. He has since received counselling with the help of SEFF.
Leslie Swindle was injured in an explosion. He had injuries to his head and shoulders. Leslie had to travel to Belfast to seek treatment before SEFF was established. “Help was bad, I was getting money that was a third of what my wage had been.” Leslie’s injuries forced him to stop work. Eventually he got the help of SEFF. “Being on the forces, you didn’t want to go to someone’s office to tell them what your problem was, you didn’t feel free to do it, here you feel quite free.”
This interview was supported by the WAVE Trauma Centre, University of Surrey and the Community Relations Council.