Northern Ireland

Kavanagh must lose advisers job says soldier hurt in IRA bomb

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionJohn Radley said Paul Kavanagh should lose his job as a Stormont special adviser.

A former soldier permanently injured in an IRA bomb has said convicted bomber Paul Kavanagh should lose his job as Martin McGuinness' special adviser.

John Radley said Mr Kavanagh, jailed for his part in the 1981 Chelsea Barracks bomb, ruined his life.

He described Kavanagh as "dirty terrorist scum".

A bill preventing anyone with serious convictions from becoming a special adviser has been passed by the assembly.

Last week, Mr Kavanagh said it was wrong to base legislation on the feelings of victims.

Mr Radley was a 21-year-old lance corporal in the Irish Guards when he was nearly killed by an IRA nail bomb.

'I'm a victim'

It exploded on the Ebury Bridge Road, yards from the barracks.

After a few years, Mr Radley was medically discharged from the army. He said it was right that Paul Kavanagh lost his special political adviser's (SPADs) job.

"I'm a victim. I haven't got any chance of appealing my discharge. I lost my whole way of life, I lost my career, my whole life was ruined by this man. Why shouldn't he pay for that? Not just my life - 23 injured - two people killed," he said.

The IRA bomb killed the son of Irish immigrants, John Breslin, 18, and a widow, Nora Fields, 59. Forty people were injured including 23 soldiers.

Mr Radley still suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, but returned to the scene to speak about his injuries ahead of an assembly vote.

Image caption John Radley was 21 when he was almost killed by an IRA bomb at the Chelsea Barracks.

The bill was sponsored by TUV leader Jim Allister and was introduced after Sinn Fein appointed Mary McArdle as a special adviser.

McArdle was convicted for her part in the murder of judge's daughter Mary Travers and her sister, Ann, launched a campaign that inspired the bill.

Assembly vote

Supported by unionists, the legislation has divided the assembly and put Sinn Fein at odds with the SDLP, which refused to help veto it.

Mr Radley said his regiment was returning to barracks in a coach due to wet weather when a remote-controlled nail bomb, in a laundry van, exploded.

He was initially left for dead and was the last soldier to be carried off the coach.

"When I eventually came around and woke up, it was like a scene from the Crimean War. People with bits of metal material stuck out of their faces and all kinds of things," he said.

"Some of the nails, they (the bombers) bent in half to act like a boomerang so when the explosion happened, the blast would make them spin through the air to try and cause maximum damage and carnage.

"A lot of us had nails pierce our bodies. When I went to hospital, they actually took four six-inch nails out of my mouth."

A six-inch nail went into Mr Radley's neck and was stuck half way into his back. Another lodged in his forehead. He said it was the thought of his young wife, Pat, which sustained him through 12 hours of surgery.

'It never goes away'

He still has wires in his left hand which he used to try and shield his face from the blast. It saved his life, he said.

"The top of my nose was hanging off - a bit like a boiled egg."

His ear drum was obliterated and he has suffered permanent hearing and eye damage.

He estimates he has had more than 6,000 stitches, says he is in pain every day and faces more surgery on his ear shortly.

After a few years Mr Radley was medically discharged from the Army.

Image caption Paul Kavanagh, a convicted IRA bomber, is currently a special adviser to Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness at Stormont.

Under the legislation special advisers who have been sentenced to more than five years in prison are granted an appeal process. This process gives victims a say and requires the former prisoner to show contrition and assist police in solving their crime.

Mr Radley said he believed in second chances but there were exceptions.

"People who indiscriminately murder and maim people don't deserve a second chance," he said.

He dismisses Paul Kavanagh's comments that he and his family understand victims' losses - after his own brother, Albert, was killed.

Mr Radley told the BBC: "Paul Kavanagh's brother, as far as I'm aware, was shot by the RUC, planting a bomb. I think Paul Kavanagh and his cohorts are just dirty scum terrorists. Paul Kavanagh had a choice whether to plant that device or not. He is a murderer as far as I'm concerned.

"Paul Kavanagh, you come and see me - you sit there across a table and you justify to me why you did what you did. Because you have got no idea the pain and the trauma you put people through."

More on this story

Around the BBC