A Caledon family have welcomed the long awaited apology from the Ministry of Defence which clarifies that two of the men killed during the Loughgall shootings in 1987 were wholly innocent.
Anthony Hughes and his brother Oliver were returning from a job in Portadown when they were caught up in the SAS ambush of an IRA unit as it approached the village’s RUC station with a bomb in a hijacked digger.
Without warning the SAS soldiers shot the two brothers with such force and intensity that left Anthony dead and his brother Oliver seriously injured.
For 27 years Mr Hughes’ widow and children have sought to have the MOD apologise for the shooting and also for the innuendo that the two brothers were in some way to blame for the events that led to their shooting.
Over the years the family have had to constantly restate that the two men were innocent.
They were deeply upset when in 2012 the SAS portrayed the brothers as victims of their own fate and justified their actions that night by turning the blame on the brothers for having ‘been in the wrong place at the wrong time’.
It took a further twenty months to have the statement rectified.
The family now welcome the latest statement that proves without a shadow of a doubt that the two brothers were innocent of any wrongdoing that night.
Anthony’s wife, Brigid Hughes said the family were permanently scarred by the killing and the cruel innuendo and misleading media reports that followed.
At the time, Mr Hughes three children were just four, six and seven. His eldest daughter was due to make her first Holy Communion weeks later.
He was described as a gifted mechanic and a devoted husband and father.
“I am glad that this apology has come but slow justice is no justice”, said Brigid.
”For 27 years we have waited for the British Government to admit that my Anthony and his brother Oliver were totally innocent of any wrongdoing. They tried to blame my Anthony for being shot.
“It was a pure insult the first apology – it wasn’t an apology at all it was an insult. They said ‘wrong place at the wrong time’.
“Well my Anthony and his brother were in the right place at the right time they were heading home. My husband was heading home to me and my three wee girls when they shot them. The soldiers were the ones in the wrong not Anthony.
“My three wee girls had to grow up without a daddy. I lost my husband and all these years they have tried to say that Anthony was in the wrong.
“So I am glad now that this latest apology has set the record straight and that they have admitted that Anthony did nothing wrong. It is time that the truth was told about what happened that night to all those who were killed. It is time for the soldiers to come out and say what they did.
“It won’t bring them back but at least the record will be set straight.
“Deirdre was only four, Sheila was six and Maura wasn’t eight when it happened, and we all went through a terrible time. Yet we were never offered any help, any counselling.”