A Sinn Fein councillor and convicted IRA bomber has abstained from a council vote on a memorial to the six people who were killed by a device he planted in Coleraine.
Six Protestant pensioners died and 33 other people were injured, including some schoolchildren, when Sean McGlinchey planted a bomb in the Co Londonderry town on June 12, 1973. He was convicted of the attack and spent 18 years in jail.
Last night, as the 45th anniversary of the atrocity approaches, the DUP brought a motion calling for Causeway Coast and Glens Council to organise a memorial event.
The motion also proposed a consultation into the erection of a permanent memorial to those who lost their lives in the attack.
Councillor McGlinchey, former mayor of Limavady, told the News Letter last week that he had no issue with the motion and would not be voting against it.
However at last night’s meeting, Councillor McGlinchey’s party colleague Kieran Mulholland proposed an amendment that sought to remove a reference in the motion describing the bombing as an “atrocity”, and a reference to the “Provisional IRA” as the organisation responsible for the attack.
The amendment was defeated and the motion was carried by 28 votes to one, with seven abstentions (SF and Alliance members).
DUP Councillor Alan McLean, who brought the motion, said after the meeting: “The motion was brought on foot of representations I had received from people bereaved in this attack, who were keen to see the 45th anniversary of the Railway Road atrocity marked in a suitable manner.
“I hope this event provides the victims and survivors with some sense of healing.”
The motion also makes provision for the potential of a permanent memorial.
Cllr McLean’s Coleraine colleague, Councillor Trevor Clarke added: “This is a sensitive matter and it should be recognised there is often a divergence of views amongst victims as to how we remember and commemorate events of the past.
“I hope that following appropriate consultation a permanent memorial to the victims of the Railway Road bombing can be erected in line with the wishes of those directly affected by this attack, as well as the local community.”
Sinn Fein Councillor Mulholland said it was “unfortunate” that his amendment was defeated, claiming it “sought to recognise all victims”.
He added: ““I proposed an amendment that would have provided for a memorial to the victims of the Coleraine bombing in an inclusive way that recognised the pain and suffering of all victims.
“The legacy of the conflict and the suffering of victims and survivors should be addressed in a holistic way and everyone has the right to remember their dead in a dignified and respectful way.
“The DUP motion was selective in its approach to victims but we did not want to turn the issue into a political football. This would have compounded the suffering of victims so on that basis, Sinn Fein abstained from the vote.”