Dominic Marron, husband and father-of-2. Shot May 1981, died August 2004

A West Belfast man who battled bravely against devastating injuries he received after being struck by a plastic bullet as a schoolboy has lost his 23-year battle for life.

Father-of-two Dominic Marron collapsed and died while playing snooker with friends on Tuesday. An autopsy revealed he had died of a massive heart attack. Dominic had suffered from heart problems – as well as a number of other health complaints – after being struck in the head by an RUC plastic bullet in May 1981 at the age of 15. In an interview with the Andersonstown News four years ago, Dominic said he expected to have to undergo a bypass operation.


“I’ll have a bypass soon. It’s another legacy of being shot” – Dominic Marron, speaking to us in May 2000

The family of a West Belfast man who collapsed and died this week say they are in no doubt that his death is directly related to his being shot in the head by the RUC 23 years ago.

Father-of-two Dominic Marron collapsed and died while playing snooker with friends on Tuesday afternoon. A post mortem yesterday revealed that he suffered a massive heart attack.

The 39-year-old had suffered constant health difficulties – including heart problems – after being shot in the head by a plastic bullet in May 1981 at the age of just 15. Dominic’s distraught wife, Jacqui, said that she’s angry that she’s been robbed of a loving husband while the couple’s sons, Nicholas (13) and Gary (9), have lost a devoted father.

Four years ago the Forfar Street man spoke candidly to the Andersonstown News about the massive health problems he had suffered after being shot.
Yesterday, Dominic’s wife Jacqui said her life and that of her two sons had been ripped apart by Dominic’s death.

“I knew this day was coming… I just didn’t know that it would come so soon,” sobbed Jacqui.

“I know that being shot killed him in the end.”

The Marron family had just enjoyed a holiday in Donegal. Jacqui said that Dominic was in high spirits and enjoying life – she said he was talking enthusiastically about starting night classes in September.

“When he left to play snooker with his pals he was great. We are only back from holiday. We were in Bundoran and we had a great time, a great time,” she said.

Jacqui recalled a bubbly character who loved to laugh despite the huge burden of his poor health.

“Everybody knew him from one end of Belfast to the other. He was so well-known, he was a top prankster and loved carrying out practical jokes. He cared about everybody and wouldn’t have said a bad word about anybody.

He was the first to defend a person, people came to him for help,” she added.
Jacqui said that in the back of their minds both she and Dominic knew that his continuing serious health problems, caused by being hit with the plastic bullet, would kill him.

“I think he knew. He blocked it out and I blocked it out. He always just said that he was alright,” she said.

After being shot by the RUC in 1981 Dominic was awarded compensation from the NIO. His wife said that the money was meaningless when compared to what her husband had to suffer in his lifetime.

“I’m so angry that he’s gone. He would have done anything for us, we wanted for nothing.

“He was our life and I don’t know what we will do without him,” she added.
Speaking to the Andersonstown News in May 2000, Dominic recalled the day he was shot – May 9, 1981, the day of the funeral of IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands. Dominic was with his close friend Sean Savage at the time of the shooting. Sean was later shot dead by the SAS in Gibraltar along with fellow IRA volunteers Mairead Farrell and Dan McCann.

“In a way I’m glad I can’t remember what had happened, except what Sean Savage told me later,” Dominic told the Andersonstown News.

“He said we were standing outside the old incident centre on Linden Street when an RUC Land Rover pulled up on to the cribby about five yards away from us and just fired. The blood was gushing out of my head and everybody thought I was dead because I couldn’t move.

“The plastic bullet had actually lodged in my skull, but a St John’s Ambulance crew were on the Falls Road that day and took me to the Royal Victoria Hospital. According to my mother, God rest her, I died in hospital but they revived me and put me on a life-support machine, and then I lapsed into a coma.”

The father-of-two said that the health problems he had suffered since he was shot were numerous and debilitating.

“I was like a new-born child, learning how to walk and talk again,” he said.
“It was very frustrating. I still walk with a limp, but although I have feeling in my left arm I can’t move it, which has baffled the doctors, they can’t understand that. I’m only 34, but last year I had a massive heart attack and I’ll have a bypass soon. The doctors told me it happened because of the weakness on my left hand side. It’s another legacy of being shot,” added Dominic.

Dominic also suffered muscle spasms in his arms and legs as a result of the shooting. He said that in addition to health problems his personality also changed because of the shooting.

“I was a changed person, I’d go into tantrums,” said Dominic.
“I feel awful about it, but I know now that I just didn’t know what I was doing. It was all part of the brain damage I suffered from being shot,” he added.

Last night Clara Reilly, Chairperson of Relatives for Justice and a veteran anti-plastic bullets campaigner, said that she first met Dominic shortly after he was shot in 1981.

“As we highlighted his case across the world Dominic with his family tried to rebuild his life,” said Clara. “He had to learn to walk and talk again and would never regain full capacity and suffered serious ill-health for the rest of his too-short life,” she added.

“There is no doubt whatsoever in any of our minds that he died as a result of the injury that was inflicted on him in 1981.”

Clara said that she wanted to send a message to the RUC member who had shot at Dominic.

“Your actions are not forgotten and a family is left bereft. Your actions went without criminal charges, but they were a heinous crime which have now left two boys without a father and a wife without her husband.

“Dominic is the latest victim of plastic bullets. In these cynical times let us pause and reflect and all of us dedicate ourselves to ensuring that no family or child or community ever, ever faces the outrage of plastic bullets nor the impunity of state forces against such devastation,” she added.

Dominic Marron’s funeral Mass will take place at 10am on Friday at St Paul’s Church, with burial afterwards at the City Cemetery.

Journalist:: Roisin McManus

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