A terrorist victims group has marked the 25th anniversary of the IRA’s Ballygawley bus bombing by calling for the full implementation of their “charter for innocent victims”.
The IRA murdered eight solders from the Light Infantry Regiment in a landmine attack along the Ballygawley to Omagh road on August 20, 1988.
Yesterday saw 12 wreaths laid at the scene as readings were given by representatives of the emergency services who attended the wounded, in a service led by John Irvine.
Omagh bomb campaigner Michael Gallagher also attended.
Speaking afterwards, Kenny Donaldson of victims umbrella group Innocent Victims United (IVU) gave “a cautious welcome” to the DUP decision to oppose a peace centre at the Maze which he feared would become “a shrine to terrorism”.
Mr Donaldson said: “People power and, more accurately, the power of truth has prevailed. Innocent victims were quite simply not prepared to remain silent any longer – they have gained their voice and, over the coming months, that voice will only get louder as they push on with our ‘agenda for change’ in restoring decency to a political and societal system which has become corrupt and deeply confused.”
He then went on to press for for a full implementation of the Charter for Innocent Victims launched by IVU in April, which he claims enjoys widespread community backing.
He said the charter calls for a new legal definition of a victim/survivor of terrorism.
The memorial service was attended by Lord Ken Maginnis, who had been at the scene on the night.
According to the exhaustive chronicle of Troubles violence, Lost Lives, the eight soldiers who died as a result of the bombing had been in their teens or early 20s, and were on an unmarked bus returning to their Omagh base after a short holiday.
In addition, the service remembered four UDR members who had been killed when the IRA bombed their Land Rover on July 13, 1983.
Lost Lives lists the 1983 attack as the greatest loss of life suffered by the UDR in a single attack at that time.
Also included in the commemoration was a member of the 16/5 Lancers, killed in 1973 by the IRA.
An umbrella group for terror victims has applauded what it calls the DUP “U-turn” over the Maze peace centre – and is now calling for the implementation of its “charter for innocent victims”.
Kenny Donaldson, spokesman for Innocent Victims United (a consortia of 14 victims’ groups and ex-security service support organisations) said: “Whilst we give our cautious welcome to this apparent change in policy [on the Maze], we again reiterate that innocent victims will monitor developments in the coming weeks and months to ensure that the project is permanently scrapped.”
He called for full implementation of the ‘Charter for Innocent Victims’ launched by IVU in April 2013 which he claimed had widespread backing.
He said this called for a new definition of a victim/survivor of terrorism; an end to language which “equates terrorists with their innocent victims”; the Republic of Ireland administration being held accountable for its “failure” to protect life in border areas; an end to “perpetrators being defined as victims”; compensation for people “displaced or ethnically cleansed” from their border homes; an independent group examining funding for “innocent victims” and new legislation that will “end the glorification and idolatry of terrorism”.