The brother of a UDR soldier murdered by the IRA has told how his “stomach was churning” after “thugs” desecrated an impromptu roadside memorial to her and a colleague.
The attack happened within hours of a memorial service to 20-year-old Heather Kerrigan and 31-year-old Norman McKinley, who were killed 30 years ago by a 200lb IRA landmine outside Castlederg.
A sign saying ‘IRA 2, UDR 0’ was erected at the site of Monday night’s service – and the murder – at Corgary Road, Castlederg. Two remembrance crosses were also stolen from the scene.
David Kerrigan, 58, who was alongside his sister at the time of the bomb, said: “It was a difficult night as it was the 30th anniversary.
“Castlederg Flute Band played a hymn, there was a Bible reading and then we laid crosses down before moving to Castlederg for a parade.
“We also left wreaths at the war memorial and graveyard in Castlederg. It was families remembering their loved ones.
“But later that night they must have vandalised what we left down [the remembrance crosses] and put up that sign. My stomach is churning.
“I suffer from post-traumatic stress, and have done since the bomb, but this has made it all so much worse.”
Recalling the events of July 14, 1984, the father-of-three said when the bomb went off he and Heather “were blown into a crater”.
“I was flown back to Omagh hospital with Heather in the helicopter and her blood was flowing under my body,” he said.
“I watched her die in the helicopter. We thought the service would have helped things, but then this.
“They [republicans] talk about calling for a shared future in Castlederg, but where is the shared future here?”
Mr Kerrigan said after the bomb he had to move out of Castlederg because of the “ongoing threat”.
Condemning the incident, PSNI chief inspector Andy Lemon, the area commander, said: “We are investigating this as a hate incident and have seized the poster.
“Incidents of this kind do nothing for community harmony in the area, indeed I believe the vast majority of people in and around Castlederg will be appalled by what has happened.”
DUP MLA Thomas Buchanan said the vandalism was “crass and hateful behaviour” and said Sinn Fein should “call off their attack dogs in Castlederg”.
TUV Castlederg representative Robert Oliver said: “Republicans talk grandly about shared space yet they attempt to deny the families of those their wicked IRA murdered the space to grieve.”
Sinn Féin MP Pat Doherty condemned the sign erected on a lamppost at Corgary as “the height of insensitivity”, adding that it is “in no way reflective of the republican community in Castlederg”.