Page last updated at 09:53 GMT, Friday, 29 July 2005 10:53 UK

Tebbit on life as an IRA victim

Norman Tebbit in the bombed Grand Hotel in Brighton
Norman Tebbit and his wife Margaret were injured in Brighton
Norman Tebbit was in Brighton's Grand Hotel when it was bombed by the IRA. His wife Margaret was paralysed. For BBC Radio 4's Today programme, he reflected on life for those injured by terrorists.

Terrorists can be let out of jail none the worse for the loss of liberty for a few years but for victims the slate is never wiped clean.

Early release has no meaning for the victim unless it's early release to the grave from a ruined life or a body broken by the barbarous use of the bodies of the innocent to gain what the terrorist wants.

The bereaved grieve in their thousands at first through every waking hour but then as time goes past the pain comes only in sharp jabs from time to time - "how I wish he had been here to see his daughter married".

Or as the others go home to husband, wife, father, son or daughter, the victims go home to a house in darkness. "How I wish he was still here", they will say.

Constant pain

For myself, most days I don't think about my own scars or the bits of plastic that hold me together. And the aches and pains when they come are what we all share in old age.

But every morning as I wake my wife is there beside me, still the same person as she was when we married almost 50 years ago. But no more can she sit up and say: "It's a lovely morning, let's go for a walk", as we did across the moors with the children and the dogs.

For her pain is an ever present companion, disability the load she never ceases to bear. For her, that quick shower and breakfast is a three-hour routine with a carer.

Not for the wheelchair-bound the quick decision to take the train, nor the cheap flight to Paris or Rome.

No more the shared laughter at the awkward stairs or the pokey bedroom of the village B&B in the heart of rural France and the fun of being off the beaten track.

Never will we take those adventure trips from the brochures falling through the post box every day.

Loss of independence

I know how it hurts my wife that she never held our grandchildren on her knee, nor prepared the treats they loved.

Hers is now a life of dependency, having to ask for everything from waking to the end of the day, depending on me and the succession of carers with whom we have to share our lives.

Of course, there are many worse off by far than us. For many others illness or accident leaves life each day but a shadow of what life might have been.

But for the terrorists' victims there's the knowledge that their lives were not wrecked by illness, accident or even personal grudge but because someone used their lives, their bodies to bludgeon and blackmail the government to submit to their political demands.

We think the victims should not have to endure the sight of terrorists rewarded nor fanatics left free to urge their followers to kill their way to paradise. That is just too much to bear.

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