A Castlederg woman whose husband and sister were murdered by the IRA has called for buildings on the Maze site to be “razed to the ground”.
Elma Hunter’s first husband Tom Loughlin, a part-time member of the UDR, was murdered on March 2, 1984, when a booby-trap bomb planted under his DOE work van exploded. She had been holding their three-month-old daughter waving goodbye when the bomb went off.
Four months later, on July 14, her 20-year-old sister Heather Kerrigan was one of two UDR members killed in a 200lb IRA landmine explosion outside Castlederg. Her brother David was badly injured in the blast.
“I was very opposed to the Maze being turned into a shrine for republicans from the start,” she said. “It was like they were going to glorify what happened to my sister and husband. I want it razed to the ground then soiled and turned into green grass. I don’t want my grandchildren to grow up with this.
“We have to try and cope with what happened [in 1984] but mammy is sitting there 24/7 thinking about it. She would chat about things that happened and Heather did this and Heather did that. Her heart is just breaking.
“Mammy has not moved on, she has just got older. And now she can’t walk or do anything at all for herself now so she has too much time to think about it. It is like a living hell.
“I first heard about the Maze U-turn from my mother. She was delighted that they would not build ‘that thing’. She said ‘at least it is something’.
“I would just like the Maze site tossed and forgotten about. There is too much heartache with it. There are too many victims out there and all they want to do is make it into a shrine for their side.”
Mrs Hunter said she and her 78-year-old wheelchair-bound mother – Isabel Kerrigan – had attended the republican parade in Castlederg on Sunday. They found it “disgusting”. “It was heartbreaking to think they were going up there glorifying murders,” she said.
“We were standing with pictures of ‘our ones’ and it was disgusting.
“I looked across that line of victims and everyone was the same, we had all lost somebody and our hearts were just breaking in two.
“I don’t know how I got through after the murders of Tom and Heather, four months apart. For us the parade was just heartbreaking.
“And to think Gerry Kelly was up there glorifying murderers – and to think he is in our government.
“Nobody has any thought for the victims any more. Seeing that parade on Sunday just sent mammy haywire altogether.”
Last night it emerged that more information is being sought by the DOE on the newly-built republican memorial in Castlederg – where the names of dead republicans were read out on Sunday .
A spokesman said that while “the monument is unauthorised and requires planning permission, further information is still required”.
He added that in line with existing procedures, DOE Planning will now consult with the community relations officer of Strabane District Council and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive to establish further facts to the case.