Belfast Telegraph

Sinn Fein 'condemning and commemorating bombers'

BY LIAM CLARKE

Victims' activists from Omagh and Castlederg have called on Sinn Fein to reconsider its plan to commemorate IRA bombers in Castlederg,

At 3pm on Sunday Sinn Fein politicians, including Anne Marie Fitzgerald, the chair of Omagh Council, will attend a memorial service for those killed in Omagh by the Real IRA.

"The Omagh commemoration will coincide with this parade in Castlederg. Sinn Fein will be commemorating bombers at one event and condemning bombers at the other. That can't be sensible," a spokesman for Castlederg Victims Voice said.

The two Tyrone towns are only 17 miles apart and the coincidences don't end with the timing of the commemorative events.

The Omagh bombing, on August 15, 1998, was the worst single atrocity of the Troubles. Twenty-nine people died as a result of a single car bomb.

By coincidence, that was exactly the same number of people who were killed by republicans in Castlederg over the entire course of the Troubles.

"My memories are of a steady procession of funerals in the town which affected most people I knew," a Castlederg Victims' spokesman said.

Michael Gallagher, of the Omagh Support and Self Help Group which is organising Sunday's memorial service, knows Castlederg well. He said: "It is a community that is struggling to cope with its recent past and everybody should do everything possible to try and lower tension and not to bring people out onto the street.

"We have got to be careful about marching through towns that have had a difficult past, and there is no town that has a more difficult past than Castlederg," he said

In Castlederg, Tyrone Volunteers Day will focus on Gerard McGlynn and Seamus Harvey, two local IRA members who died 40 years ago when a car bomb destined for the town detonated prematurely.

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