New controversy over south Armagh centre’s IRA memorial

The  Ti Chulainn Centre's IRA memorial at Mullaghbawn in south Armagh

The Ti Chulainn Centre's IRA memorial at Mullaghbawn in south Armagh

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An IRA memorial at a controversial south Armagh community centre makes it unsuitable for use as a health services facility, a victims’ group has said.

The complaint has been made after an elderly Protestant woman, who had a relative murdered by one of the Provos commemorated on a wall at Mullaghbawn’s Ti Chulainn centre, was shocked to see the substantial structure as she arrived for treatment.

A spokeswoman for the Southern Health Trust said community health care is provided at around 70 different facilities across the southern area “to make our services more accessible” to local people.

However, Willie Frazer of the FAIR group said it was “disgusting” that health care facilities, which are supposed to operate a “neutral environment” policy, should be so unwelcoming for Protestants.

“People are being told this is where they have to go to get tests taken, and if they don’t the options are longer waiting lists or longer travel,” he said.

“If there is a policy using community venues to do this it is vital that they are neutral. This is a total disgrace where people are being asked to go to a centre which is clearly republican and glorifies those responsible for taking lives. This is a clear attempt to sanitise the IRA and their murderous campaign.”

There was an outcry in 2010 when it was revealed that a European funding body had granted more than £250,000 to the centre for activities that included tours promoting the “proud tradition of resisting British rule in Ireland”.

In 2011 photographs emerged of children as young as five or six at the centre dressed as terrorists and handling weapons similar to those used by the IRA.

In response SDLP MLA Dominic Bradley – who is a founding board member of the Ti Chulainn centre – expressed concern at what he called “an elaborate glorification of violence and Provo gunmen involving young children”.

Commenting on the latest incident, Mr Frazer said the elderly woman feared she “was going to have a heart attack” with the shock of seeing the killer’s name on the memorial.

The Southern Trust said: “If the lady or her representative wants to come and talk to us directly about it then we can discuss the options. We are unaware of these issues and we would ask the people concerned to come and talk to us.”

According to the Tí Chulainn centre’s website, its aims and objectives are “to promote the historical significance, rich cultural and natural heritage of the South Armagh area”.

It goes on to say that it houses a local genealogy project, and adds: “Ti Chulainn Centre houses the Cuimhneamh Living History Project, which encapsulates the memories and recollections of people from across Armagh and Louth during the Troubles.”