Families of murdered UDR soldiers speak of immense sadness on 40th anniversary of IRA bomb

Murdered UDR soldier Corporal Heather Kerrigan, who along with Private Norman McKinley, were killed by an IRA bomb while on foot patrol close to Castlederg, Co Tyrone on July 14 1984.Murdered UDR soldier Corporal Heather Kerrigan, who along with Private Norman McKinley, were killed by an IRA bomb while on foot patrol close to Castlederg, Co Tyrone on July 14 1984.
Murdered UDR soldier Corporal Heather Kerrigan, who along with Private Norman McKinley, were killed by an IRA bomb while on foot patrol close to Castlederg, Co Tyrone on July 14 1984.
​There is still "immense sadness" among those who knew two Ulster Defence Regiment soldiers who were killed by the IRA 40 years ago, a relative has said.

Corporal Heather Kerrigan and Private Norman McKinley were killed by an IRA bomb while on foot patrol near Castlederg, Co Tyrone, on July 14 1984.

Ahead of the 40th anniversary, Cpl Kerrigan's brother David, who was present at the time of the explosion, said Sunday will mark another milestone since the attack.

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In a statement, he said: "Forty years for some is a long time but actually, for me, time has not moved forward in many ways at all.

Murdered UDR soldier Private Norman McKinley, who along with UDR Corporal Heather Kerrigan, were killed by an IRA bomb while on foot patrol close to Castlederg, Co Tyrone on July 14 1984.Murdered UDR soldier Private Norman McKinley, who along with UDR Corporal Heather Kerrigan, were killed by an IRA bomb while on foot patrol close to Castlederg, Co Tyrone on July 14 1984.
Murdered UDR soldier Private Norman McKinley, who along with UDR Corporal Heather Kerrigan, were killed by an IRA bomb while on foot patrol close to Castlederg, Co Tyrone on July 14 1984.

"The events of that day stay with me morning, noon and night. The fact that I was with Heather throughout makes it all the more painful, and yet there is a comfort in me knowing that she wasn't alone in the aftermath of that savage attack.

"Heather was a beautiful young woman and a special sister, she was loved so dearly by us all. But she was someone who was filled with conviction, she knew what was happening in the country was wrong, and gender never got in the way of Heather's will to do something about it.

"Four Greenfinch UDR CGC soldiers were murdered over the course of the terrorist campaign. Four special women who wanted a better Northern Ireland and a community which could be at ease with itself.

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"And whilst we have been filled with immense sadness over the years with Heather not being around, nevertheless we are filled with pride by the women she was, the leader she had been within the community."

Mr Kerrigan said he has suffered complex post-traumatic stress disorder and depression since the attack, adding: "I can take to the bed for weeks on end, I often feel hopeless, frustration and righteous anger at what is happening within the country.

"It is so important that Heather and Norman are not forgotten, nor the thousands of other innocents who were murdered and maimed through terrorism.

"Wider society needs to develop an appreciation and understanding for what some of us have endured."

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He said he would be remembering his sister at Castlederg Cemetery with a "beaming smile" on Sunday, when an act of remembrance with prayers will take place at 1.30pm .

Kenny Donaldson , director of the South East Fermanagh Foundation victims' group, said the Kerrigan and McKinley families will be "well supported" on Sunday.

"The Provisional IRA mercilessly murdered 29 members of the security forces/civilians along the Castlederg border and its hinterland, yet well over 90% of these heinous crimes remain unresolved. This is a huge justice and accountability deficit for a community and the linked families to have to bear."