Show compassion for IRA victims in Derrylin, urges MLA Tom Elliott

Tom Elliott MLA. Photo Andrew Paton/
Tom Elliott MLA. Photo Andrew Paton/

Republicans in Fermanagh have been urged to “show some compassion” for IRA victims by calling off a planned tribute to the 1981 hunger strikers.

Former Ulster Unionist leader Tom Elliott said the August 3 march in Derrylin would add to the hurt of those bereaved through terrorism.

“They should show some compassion for the IRA’s victims and realise the hurt and upset their hunger strike march is causing, and also the negative impact on community relations.

“In this small area of Northern Ireland the IRA murdered, among others, a farmer and his wife while watching TV, a school bus driver while collecting primary school children at a school, and a primary school teacher while at his place of work where he taught children,” he said.

“The families have suffered enough, but local people are obviously concerned about making their views known publicly as they live in fear of reprisals and intimidation when the event is over.”

The Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA added: “The fact that the march will go past the spot where the IRA shot Jimmy Graham on a school bus as he was taking children to the swimming pool will cause more anguish and pain for his long suffering family.

“The IRA had already robbed the Graham Family of two of Jimmy’s brothers, Ronnie and Cecil, when they murdered him.

“I know the Graham family well. I saw, first-hand, the barbarity which the IRA inflicted on the Graham family.

“As a member of the UDR, I was flown out to the site of Jimmy’s murder in Derrylin in its immediate aftermath and saw another life stolen by terrorists as he provided a service for these young school children.

“I saw the pain inflicted on some of the most decent people you will ever meet.

“Now republicans intend to pile more pain on them. Instead of glorifying terrorists and criminals, Sinn Fein and the organisers of this march should show some compassion for the victims. Violence was wrong then and it is wrong now.”

The Lisnaskea-based South East Fermanagh Foundation (SEFF) - which provides services and support to the innocent victims of terrorism and other Troubles related violence throughout Fermanagh and South Tyrone - has appealed to those promoting and supporting the holding of the Derrylin march to consider the implications of their actions.

Representatives of SEFF are due to meet with the Parades Commission next week to discuss the Sinn Fein organised event.

Spokesman for the group Kenny Donaldson said: “Under the auspices of SEFF, community, political and religious leaders recently met with families whose loved ones were murdered by the IRA in the Derrylin area.

“The families were and are understandably very upset, hurt and anxious about the upcoming hunger striker march”.

Mr Donaldson said that representations have already been made to the both the UK and ROI governments - and to the PSNI to appeal for a visible police presence at the event.