Shock and disgust at UDR poppy desecration: Hussey

Norman McKinley (left) and Heather Kerrigan (right).
Norman McKinley (left) and Heather Kerrigan (right).

Ulster Unionist Councillor, Derek Hussey, has expressed shock and disgust following the desecration of Poppy Tributes that had been placed at a 30 year old murder site on Corgary Road several miles outside the town of Castlederg.

Republican vandals removed a poppy wreath and remembrance crosses and erected a pro-IRA poster at the site of the murder of two UDR soldiers in Castlederg with police appealling for witnesses.

The memorial was installed on Monday and the police received a report of the vandalism on Wednesday (July 16).

Mr Hussey said: “On Monday, July 14, I had the privilege of taking part in a fitting, dignified and poignant Commemoration of the 30th Anniversary of the murder of two UDR soldiers - Heather Kerrigan and Norman McKinley - both of whom were well known to me.

“Prior to the main section of the Commemoration in Castlederg a small party of relatives, friends and band members travelled to the site where Heather and Norman were murdered when a landmine was exploded by republican terrorists operating from just across the border in the Republic of Ireland.

“Family and friends attached a few wooden Poppy Crosses and two Poppy Posies to a roadside fence at the location, a hymn was played, the Last Post sounded and we then returned to Castlederg causing offence to none.

“We were joined by many hundreds on return to the town where a Parade proceeded to the graves of Heather and Norman in the local Cemetery and respects were paid to the deceased. The procession then moved to Castlederg Cenotaph pausing at Norman’s former home in Breezemount Park en route.

“At the Cenotaph wreaths were laid, the Exhortation proclaimed and musical tributes played by Castlederg Young Loyalists’ Flute Band assisted by Pipers and a young singer. The gathering concluded by proceeding peacefully back to the Main Car Park.

“I would congratulate the local Flute Band and all others involved in the evening’s arrangements for what was an appropriate, sensitive and well organised Commemoration.”

Mr Hussey said he travelled to Corgary Road and found the tributes had been removed and a board erected with the wording ‘IRA 2 UDR 0.’

“I was shocked at this but cannot imagine how the families must feel at this callous and deliberate hate crime that has been perpetrated upon them. Many in our local community, all parts of our community, have expressed their disgust to me at what has happened and empathise fully with the victims,” he stated.

“I urge anyone with any information regarding this heinous incident to contact Police who are investigating the crime.”

He said republicans who condemn anything to do with the local PUL community should perhaps reflect on the possibility they may have “given succour and encouragement to the perpetrators of this hate crime!”