`They saved an awful long time for this holiday'
Wednesday 03 February 1999
As images of her three granddaughters laughing as they were ejected from their holiday flight filled the screen, 84-year-old Anne Doherty squinted, holding one of her many statues of the Virgin Mary. "I'm very worried about them. My grandson's got asthma," she said. "They only went on holiday to help his chest."
The home of the Virginia 12 is a long way from the blue waters of Jamaica's Montego Bay, where they had been bound. The group of caravans rented by the "travellers" sit in the middle of a car park littered with supermarket trolleys and patrolled by large black dogs. These "holiday homes" cost pounds 50 a week - somewhat cheaper than the pounds 1,500-a-couple cost of their aborted trip to the Caribbean.
"They saved an awful long time for this holiday," said Tonie Smith, 12, the son of Noreen Sanders, one of the holidaymakers. He was staying with his grandmother in Bermondsey while his mother was away.They had, he said, been looking forward to their escape from the Lewisham caravan site for more than a year.
"That's the first time they've ever been anywhere. They took a few drinks because they hadn't flown before."
According to a male member of the family who declined to be named, the party's ejection from the flight came about purely as a result of anti- Irish feeling. He, like many members of the extended family, had plenty of theories both as to why the authorities had decided to ruin the "once in a lifetime" trip - and why the Lewisham party had been the only ones to suffer. "They're out there for a joyride," he said as he strode up and down the busy road. "What's wrong with a holiday?"
Inside the caravan, Bridget Driscoll, mother of three of the party, drew heavily on her cigarette. She said she hadn't slept since her daughter, Elizabeth, phoned her in tears on Sunday. As few of the community can read, they have been dependent on the television to piece together the story. "All we want is to have them back. They didn't murder anyone. They didn't rape anyone," she said. "We are a well-bred, respectable family. One man caused the problem. It's not fair, punishing so many people for other people's dealings."
Despite the end of their dream holiday, and the ignominious circumstances of her family's foray into the public eye, Mrs Doherty, still glued to the screen, couldn't quite contain her pride.
- 1 The man who filmed the Freddie Gray video has been arrested at gunpoint
- 3 Top Gear: Jodie Kidd, Philip Glenister and Guy Martin 'in advanced talks' to join show
- 4 Frankie Boyle on Scottish independence: 'In the Interests of Unity, F**k Off'
- 5 How to gain confidence and maximise your sexual potential
Boston Marathon runner's search for mystery man she kissed ends with letter from his wife
Frankie Boyle on Scottish independence: 'In the Interests of Unity, F**k Off'
Italian police 'reveal' what Jesus looked like as a young boy
Mysterious 'X-Files' sounds heard miles above the Earth
Met Gala 2015: Beyoncé manages to out-skimp Rihanna, Miley and Kim Kardashian combined with near-naked ensemble
In defence of liberal democracy
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
General election live: SNP suspends two members for disrupting Labour rally
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils
Andy McSmith's Sketch: Feisty audience is the real star of an enlightening show
£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...
£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...
£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...