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Anger as wreaths to dead of Narrow Water are destroyed again

By Rebecca Black

Published 02/05/2016

TUV councillor Henry Reilly said wreaths placed on the same spot on the busy Newry to Warrenpoint dual carriageway were attacked at least twice last year
TUV councillor Henry Reilly said wreaths placed on the same spot on the busy Newry to Warrenpoint dual carriageway were attacked at least twice last year

Wreaths left in memory of 18 soldiers killed in an IRA ambush at Narrow Water near Warrenpoint have been attacked.

It is believed the tributes were targeted last Friday night or early Saturday morning.

TUV councillor Henry Reilly said wreaths placed on the same spot on the busy Newry to Warrenpoint dual carriageway were attacked at least twice last year.

They mark the spot where on August 27, 1979, the Provos detonated two large roadside bombs close to Narrow Water Castle.

The first explosion targeted a military convoy and the second targeted those sent to help the victims of the first blast.

Eighteen soldiers died and six more were injured. They are remembered with a wreath-laying ceremony every August 27 on the anniversary of the atrocity and in November for Remembrance Day.

Mr Reilly said tributes were previously attacked last August and again in November.

"The attacks come in a pattern; the wreaths will be left alone for quite a long period of time, and then there will be a rash of attacks on them," he said.

"We have an annual service there on August 27 to commemorate the soldiers who died. A number of wreaths are laid by various groups, including myself. They were vandalised a couple of days later but we replaced them.

"Then in November they were destroyed again, and again they were replaced.

"These last ones that were destroyed will also be replaced."

Mr Reilly said after each attack he gets phone calls expressing anger from both sides of the community.

"I get calls from the local Catholic community in Warrenpoint who are disgusted, they want to see those wreaths being left alone," he said.

"It was traumatic for everyone, that bomb. It was traumatic for the police, fire brigade and ambulances that attended on the day. It was traumatic for all the decent people of Warrenpoint. Something that we will always remember and it is just a mark of respect to lay those wreaths for those 18 young men.

"I thank the people of Warrenpoint and south Down for the way they do respect the wreaths. It's just a few oddballs and nutcases that do these things."

Protestant victims' campaigner William Frazer also condemned the attack, and highlighted it on his Facebook page.

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