Hundreds turn out to remember soldiers killed by IRA in Lisburn fun run van blast
The Last Post sounded across Lisburn city centre last night as hundreds gathered to remember to six soldiers murdered 30 years ago at a charity fun run.
Locals brought the city's Market Place to a standstill as wreaths were laid in memory of the soldiers who died when an IRA bomb exploded under their van after completing a fun run on June 15, 1998.
Relatives of the six soldiers were joined by victims injured in the atrocity, as well as local dignitaries at a poignant re-dedication ceremony for a memorial plaque to the men who lost their lives.
The men killed were Sergeant Michael Winkler (31); Signalman Mark Clavey (24); Lance Corporal Graham Lambie (22); Corporal William Paterson (22), all Royal Signals; Corporal Ian Metcalfe (36), served with the Green Howards, and Lance Corporal Derek Green (20) with the Royal Army Ordnance Corps.
Among those in attendance was Lagan Valley MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, who said: "We are delighted to have some of the families of the soldiers here with us today.
"It's good to see so many people from the local community come along to pay their respects 30 years on.
"I've met people tonight who were present at the scene when the explosion occurred, met some of the police officers who helped evacuate the area, and civilians who themselves were taking part in the fun run.
"There's no doubt that the bombing left a deep scar in this community - but most especially left a huge hole in the lives of the families who lost their loved ones."
One of those still-grieving relatives was Helen Woolnough, from St Helens on Merseyside.
She is the sister of Lance Corporal Derek Green of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps (RAOC).
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph after the re-dedication ceremony, she said: "I feel really emotional. I was really surprised when a young lad from the RAOC regiment came up and gave me flowers.
"It was very emotional speaking to him.
"I'm very glad I was able to be here today."
Relatives of Corporal Paterson and Corporal Metcalfe also travelled to be at the ceremony.
Colonel Rob Lyndsay of the 38th Irish Brigade laid a wreath in memory of his fallen comrades.
He said: "I think the town has honoured the soldiers' memory in an entirely appropriate manner. Although 30 years may sound like a long time, it's important to remember something as significant as this."
Moira woman Andrea Brown, who suffered life-changing injuries in the bombing said it had been a difficult day for everyone who had been affected by the atrocity.
"I think it's so important that the families aren't forgotten," she said. Tonight I met Corporal Metcalfe's daughter and without this event I would never have been able to do that.
"I've also met Lance Corporal Paterson's mum and dad and his sister Julie.
"They are just lovely people and for them to come and hold me and say: 'don't let them make you shake, be proud' - it means a lot.
"They lost more that night than I did," she added.
"The physical injuries are bad, but the emotional ones are the hardest to deal with."
Standing unassumingly among the gathering was former police officer Keith Jamieson, who had placed a personal floral tribute under the memorial plaque.
He had been an 18-year-old rookie on duty at the fun run, and was just a few yards away when the van bomb exploded, killing the soldiers instantly.
"It's important the families know that we still think of them," he said.
"Their sons and brothers are gone, but they are not forgotten."
Uel Mackin, who is now Mayor of Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council, had been at the fun run when the bomb - which was triggered by a mercury tilt switch - exploded.
"This was a day that we will never forget," he said.
"Thirty years ago, six young soldiers - doing good in the community - were slaughtered brutally by the IRA.
"Their lives were taken, their families torn apart. We cannot know how they felt then or how they feel today. But we can share some of the pain."
He said the bombing was "truly horrific", and vowed that Lisburn would never forget the young men who lost their lives that day.
"You can see the size of the crowd here this evening," he said.
"That is a testament of how the people of this community feel.
"Local feelings and local memories run deep. Lisburn has not forgotten these fine young men.
"And Lisburn never will."