Memorial service to remember victims of IRA bomb attack 30 years on

The scene of devastation at Market Place, Lisburn in June 1988 after an IRA bomb exploded under an Army transit van killing six soldiers. Pic by Pacemaker
The scene of devastation at Market Place, Lisburn in June 1988 after an IRA bomb exploded under an Army transit van killing six soldiers. Pic by Pacemaker

Survivors, armed forces representatives and former emergency services personnel who were on duty in Lisburn on the night of the June 15, 1988 bomb attack will be among those in attendance at a special service to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the atrocity.

Six soldiers who had just completed a charity fun run in the town were killed when an IRA bomb went off under their van as they set off to return to barracks at around 9pm.

The plaque erected in Market Place, Lisburn in memory of the six murdered soldiers.

The plaque erected in Market Place, Lisburn in memory of the six murdered soldiers.

A number of civilians who had been at the fun run, and others who were in shops along Market Place, were injured when the no warning bomb exploded.

Members of the public are being invited to join elected representatives and invited guests at the memorial event, due to take place at Market Place on Friday evening (June 15) at 6.30pm.

The event, organised by Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council, will see the memorial plaque erected in memory of the murdered soldiers rededicated.

“The loss of life, devastation and destruction that took place that terrible evening three decades ago is something that so many local people still remember and the council wants to ensure that anyone who wishes to pay their respects can do so by coming along to the service on Friday,” said Mayor Uel Mackin.

“The six young soldiers had competed in the annual Half Marathon and Fun Run and were returning to their base when a terrorist bomb destroyed the vehicle in which they were travelling. There were some 11 injuries to bystanders who were in Lisburn that evening as many young people, families and children had participated in the event and the then town was very busy. The story is well documented and sadly none of the six men survived. One can only contemplate the shock and grief of their family relatives who were left in the deepest mourning.”

Cllr Mackin added: “It is 30 years ago now, and a lot of time has passed, but the memories of those young men who were killed will stay with their families forever and of course they will never be forgotten by the council or the people of Lisburn.

“It will be a privilege for me to attend this deeply poignant occasion as one of my early Mayoral duties and to pay my respects to the men who served Queen and country.”

Lagan Valley MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, who plans to attend the service on Friday evening and lay a wreath, said the terrorists who planted the bomb under the soldiers’ van had “turned a sporting occasion into a scene of carnage.”

“They not only destroyed six young lives, but left a scar on our community in Lisburn that will take many years to heal,” the DUP man said.

“I still speak often with local people who remember vividly the situation that developed that evening when the fun run turned into a human tragedy.”

Alderman Jim Dillon, who was at home at the time of the bomb attack, explained how he heard the explosion and immediately made his way into town where he came across “a scene of utter devastation.”

“It’s unbelievable how anyone could do that to another human being - it’s beyond reasoning,” he said.

The UUP man said he hopes to attend Friday night’s memorial service to pay his respects to the victims of the 1988 attack.

The council has advised motorists that traffic will be disrupted around Market Place on Friday evening, from around 5.30pm to 7.30pm.