Coleraine Bomb memorial and plaque approved by Council
On June 12, 1973, the Provisional IRA detonated a car bomb on Railway Road, Coleraine, resulting in the death of six civilians, all in their 60s and 70s, writes Gillian Anderson, Local Democracy Reporter.
Now, 48 years on from the tragedy, councillors sitting on the Leisure and Development Committee, have approved the recommendation to build and locate both a permanent structural memorial at Coleraine Town Hall, and a plaque at the location of the bomb at Railway Road.
An Engagement Project was developed with the bereaved and injured, in order to attempt to reach consensus on the design of, wording of, and location of a structural memorial to those who lost their lives.
The report brought before councillors stated: ‘Participants within the group who represented the families of all six victims who lost their lives were able to reach consensus on design, location and wording, following substantive engagement and dialogue.’
The report notes that one participant, who had engaged in the consultation process and dialogue, subsequently withdrew from the project due to their concerns and views that they ‘did not want to facilitate the name of the IRA being written in stone, or to give political credence to an act of murder.’
The report added: ‘they were concerned that this could be viewed as ‘an emblem of triumph and achievement for the perpetrators.’
It was proposed that the preferred location for the permanent structural memorial was at the the Town Hall, adjacent to the War Memorial whilst a plaque with specific wording agreed by families of the deceased victims would be integrated into the paving surface adjacent to 1-5 Railway Road, marking the site of the bomb which caused the six deaths and injuries of many others.
The plaque will read: ‘On 12th June 1973 a no warning IRA car bomb exploded on this spot resulting in the death of 6 innocent people, wounding and impacting the lives of countless more.’
The permanent structural memorial will carry the names of the deceased and will read:
‘In loving memory of those killed on Railway Road on 12th June 1973. Frances Campbell (69), Dinish Campbell (72), Elizabeth Craigmile (76), Nan Davis (60), Elizabeth “Cissie” Palmer (60), Robert “Robbie” Scott (72).
‘What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone, but what is woven into the lives of others’ Never Forgotten.
Proposing the recommendation for the plaque and the structural memorial is accepted, DUP Councillor Alan McLean spoke of his mixed emotions.
“I am happy to see the report has reached this stage but obviously sadness to see that two of the elderly ladies who were strong drivers behind this have passed away since the original motion came through.
“The families have been consulted with and from day one this is what this motion was about. It was not about anything for party political benefits, this came about on the back of requests from the families of the victims. All along I wanted it to be driven by them and I am happy that they have made these decisions.
“With regards to the timescale, I have spoken to some of the families and ideally for the 49th anniversary on June 12 would be great.”
Members were informed by council officer Julie Welsh that the indicative timeline for completion is July, however, every attempt would be made to have the project completed for the 49th anniversary on June 12, 2022 with an indicative cost of between £25,000 and £35,000.
DUP group lead, Councillor Aaron Callan seconded the proposal adding: “It’s been a long drawn out affair and a lot of good work has been carried out engaging with the families. I look forward to seeing the plaque and the piece of art in its place in the near future so the families can remember their loved ones in a fitting way.”
UUP Alderman Joan Baird paid tribute to the families for taking part in the process as Alliance Councillor Yvonne Boyle described it as a ‘sensitive and complex area where the welfare of the survivors is paramount.’
Committee Vice Chair PUP Councillor Russell Watton said it was a ‘very cruel day’ and this memorial should have been put up ‘a long, long time ago.’
“I’m very pleased with the consultation because it is victim-led and that’s exactly how it should be,” he added.
The recommendation passed unanimously and will go forward to September’s full council meeting for ratification.