A mother whose nine-year-old daughter was the youngest victim of an atrocity 36 years ago will tomorrow be laid to rest in the same grave.
Friends said that Merle Eakin, whose nine-year-old daughter Kathryn was killed as she cleaned the windows of the family grocery store in Claudy in 1972, never got over the youngster’s death.
Kathryn was one of nine people murdered when two bombs exploded in the Co Londonderry village. The other people killed were, Joseph McCluskey, David Miller, James McClelland, William Temple, Elizabeth McElhinney, Rose McLaughlin, Patrick Connolly and Arthur Hone.
A PSNI probe has claimed there was a cover-up by the Government and the Catholic Church to prevent the unmasking of a priest who was allegedly involved in the bombing.
Mary Hamilton, a UUP member of Derry City Council, who was injured in the attack, said last night that she was sad to learn that Mrs Eakin, who lived in Castlerock, died on Tuesday after a stroke.
She added that she and her husband Ernie, who owned a hotel blasted by the bomb, had kept in touch with the Eakin family since the atrocity.
She said: “Our sympathy goes to her husband Billy, and to their son Mark. Merle never got over what happened.”
She said Mrs Eakin would be buried in the same grave as her daughter, adding: “Now, after 36 years, she is back with Kathryn.”
Mrs Eakin will be buried in Claudy after a service in Castlerock tomorrow.
The funeral will leave her home at Castle Park at 11.30am, followed by a service in Christ Church, Castlerock, and burial at Upper Cumber Cemetery.
Mrs Eakin had spoken in the past about how she tried to come to terms with what happened.
She said: “It is very emotional because it is the same Christmas present every year, a bunch of flowers. You don't have to think about what you are going to buy her. It's not fair really. She was such a lovely child.”
The murder triggered widespread revulsion across Ulster and a backlash against the IRA, who never admitted the attack.
Mrs Eakin had called for a full public inquiry, along the lines of the Saville Inquiry, to be held to investigate the alleged role of Fr James Chesney and a possible cover-up by the British government and the Catholic Church.
The Police Ombudsman has prepared a report on the bombing. It was due to be released several months ago, but was delayed while a new development was probed.