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Republican 'show of strength' will reopen old wounds, say family of slain Greenfinch Heather

 

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David and Irene Kerrigan with a photograph of his sister, Heather, who was murdered in 1984

David and Irene Kerrigan with a photograph of his sister, Heather, who was murdered in 1984

David and Irene Kerrigan with a photograph of his sister, Heather, who was murdered in 1984

Relatives of a murdered UDR woman have said staging a hunger strike rally in Strabane will "reopen old wounds" for victims.

Greenfinch Heather Kerrigan was 20 when she was killed alongside her colleague, Norman McKinley (32), in Castlederg, Co Tyrone, in 1984.

The soldiers were out on foot patrol when a landmine planted by the IRA exploded.

Heather's brother, David Kerrigan, was leading the patrol at the time. He and his wife, Irene, who also served with the UDR, said they felt "disgusted" by the announcement of the rally.

"Personally, we think it's wrong they're even allowed to have a hunger striker rally in Strabane," said Mrs Kerrigan. "Unionist people don't commemorate their families that way. They just have a plaque in a church hall.

"It's not relevant to bring this up every year. I actually feel sick to the pit of my stomach."

Mr Kerrigan added: "I feel very annoyed about it. We remember Heather in our own way - we go to where she was killed and put down some poppies, but they have been vandalised and removed before.

"They shouldn't be holding these parades, full stop."

Mrs Kerrigan said she considered the rally more of a "show of strength" than a commemoration.

"I would say to the organisers, please, reconsider. Think of all the innocent victims in Tyrone.

"We suffered badly. There's about 15 people in Castlederg graveyard that are buried there, with families that have never and will never get justice.

"We feel like the forgotten people while the IRA and Sinn Fein try to rewrite history.

"In our experience, our stories never get out there and nobody wants to hear them. There's no big inquiries for us.

"I don't think they should be allowed to tramp around Strabane and rub our noses in it, opening old wounds and making us relive what we've been through so many times.

"You only have to listen to these inquiries. The people who speak remember everything so vividly.

"That's how we feel, and it is painful, so to have a huge event like this makes that worse."

The family previously spoke out after a memorial to Heather was vandalised just hours after a prayer service was held to mark 30 years since the soldiers' deaths.

Belfast Telegraph