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Billy Johnston

My friend and neighbour, Billy Johnston died around noon on August 25th 2001. Billy was only in his early fifties. He had been a member of the old Ulster Independence Movement and an enthusiastic supporter of Ulster Nation magazine. Billy had been struggling against lung cancer for the past three years. He had seemed to go into remission for a while, but the cancer came back last year. Billy had only been able to speak in whispers. He had a lot of pain and towards the end he was on a continual morphine drip and also a drip feed as he became unable to swallow.

Even as late as last month, though, he was delighted with the Twelfth special broadsheet that we produced this year and he was fascinated by the pictures of Rabbi Schiller's recent visit to Ulster. He often gave insightful comments and encouragement to me. I last saw him a couple of weeks ago in the RVH after he had learned that secondary tumours had gone all through his body into the brain and his other organs. He was very tired and in pain. He knew that he was going to die and had accepted this reality. Farewell Billy, friend and comrade. You will be missed.


David Kerr (Written August 2001)

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