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MP urges people to remember young census worker Joanne Mathers shot dead in Londonderry


Shot dead: Joanne Mathers was mother to a young son

Shot dead: Joanne Mathers was mother to a young son

Shot dead: Joanne Mathers was mother to a young son

As families across Northern Ireland filled in their census forms yesterday, DUP MP Gregory Campbell urged people to remember the 40th anniversary of the murder of census worker Joanne Mathers.

The young mum was just 29 years old when an IRA gunman shot her dead on the doorstep of a Gobnascale home while she talked to the householder on an April afternoon in 1981.

The murder occurred in the midst of a republican campaign to stop the public co-operating with census takers after the terrorists claimed the forms were being used to gather intelligence.

Her husband, Lowry Mathers, was left to bring up their young son Shane alone.

Mr Campbell said: "Mrs Mathers was carrying out census duties near the Gobnascale area of Londonderry in April 1981.

"She was carrying out this task and was singled out as an innocent victim and brutally gunned down in cold blood.

"The Provisional IRA were responsible for the attack but no one has ever been convicted of Mrs Mathers' murder," he added.

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"The added irony now is that people all across Northern Ireland are being asked to complete their census forms safely and many will be done online.

"Forty years ago in 1981 it was done door to door and a young innocent woman was gunned down while carrying out the task.

"A close relative of Joanne's told me recently that the guilty people haven't served any of the life sentence they deserve, but the family were still serving theirs," the MP said yesterday.

"Like numerous other vicious killings no one has been made amenable for her murder."

The DUP MP said he had questioned the late Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness about IRA murders in Londonderry carried out while he was in charge.

"On every single occasion I confronted him about what part he played in or what knowledge he had of any of these atrocities, his answer was always the same, he knew nothing and approved nothing.

"Most people could see through the brazen denials for what they were.

"As we try and build a better future for all our people, we cannot and must not forget the past, lest there be those who would take refuge in trying to repeat or rewrite it," Mr Campbell said.

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