Stormont snub ‘shown up’ by Derry and Strabane council gesture to remember terrorism victims, says former RUC man who lost legs in bombing

Stormont MLAs have been “shown up” by a decision to light buildings in Derry City and Strabane Council in red to remember terrorism victims this week.

Parliament Buildings at Stormont was lit up in 2019 to mark European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Terrorism
Parliament Buildings at Stormont was lit up in 2019 to mark European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Terrorism

That is according to Mervyn Lewers, a former RUC officer who lost both legs following an under-car bomb attack by the IRA in May 1988, after the council’s SDLP Mayor Brian Tierney agreed to mark the European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Terrorism – March 11 – by arranging for a number of buildings in the council area to be lit in red.

Mr Lewers, speaking to the News Letter, thanked the mayor and the DUP Deputy Mayor Graham Warke for making the arrangements which would “mean a lot to all victims of terrorism”.

Mr Warke, had written to the mayor to request the gesture over the weekend and on Monday the SDLP man contacted Mr Lewers directly to inform him of the plans.

This comes after a proposal to light up Parliament Buildings at Stormont to mark the occasion was blocked by Sinn Fein in a move that angered many victims.

Mr Lewers said: “The MLAs have been shown up by Derry City and Strabane Council.

“The mayor just phoned me and said they can light up the council offices on the Strand Road and the Alley Theatre in Strabane, but that they can’t do it at the Guildhall because they had already agreed to a request to light it up for ovarian cancer awareness month.

“I thanked him for that. It is appropriate to do this in Derry and Strabane, because this is where the youngest victim of the Troubles was killed, in Strabane.”

He added: “I am disappointed that is has turned into an orange and green issue for some people, because it isn’t. A bomb or a bullet doesn’t discriminate.

“I am pleased that the mayor has agreed to this when our MLAs at Stormont couldn’t.

“It just goes to show the parties can do something when they are working together.

“There are enough victims in this town, and all over the country. Victims often feel like they have been forgotten about so this gesture means a lot.”

Mr Warke said: “The European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Terrorism came about following the 2004 Madrid bombing, and on March 11 each year this event has been for the victims of terrorist atrocities worldwide.

“Back in March 2016 l had the honour of travelling to Brussels for this event along with victims from the Omagh bombing. I met victims from the 7/7 bombing in London, Paris attacks and also the Tunisia attacks. One year later members from the Omagh bombing and Tunisia attacks were hosted at an event in the Guildhall.”

He added: “This relates to all victims of terrorism, and I’m pleased that the proposal was agreed to by the mayor.

“I and my party will continue to fight for and support all victims.”