Around 100 people gathered outside Queen’s University Belfast this morning for a memorial event marking the 35th anniversary of the murder of Edgar Graham.
The 29-year-old barrister, academic and Assembly member – a rising star within the Ulster Unionist Party – was shot dead by an IRA gunman as he chatted to a colleague outside the university on the morning of December 7, 1983.
The memorial event, organised and attended by current students of the university, saw Mr Graham’s sister Anne lay a wreath at the spot where her brother was brutally murdered.
Speaking at the service, Anne recalled the terrible events of 35 years ago and the devastating impact they had on her family.
Stressing that she has “challenged Sinn Fein for their refusal to condemn Edgar’s murder”, Anne said: “I will keep on honouring my brother’s memory and defending his career and character. I will call out the hypocrisy of others but I will also talk to the people who refuse to recognise murder for murder. I will try to convince them there is a better way.”
Wreaths were also laid by the students who organised the event, and representatives of a number of university societies.
One of the organisers, politics student Calvin Reid, described Mr Graham as “a role model for us as students and a man worth remembering.”
He said the purpose the event was “to remember a man of great integrity, a man who stood on the side of law and justice, a man of great intellect and ability, a man that was for Northern Ireland.”
Mr Reid added: “As young people, it is worrying for us that there are those within society who don’t believe that what happened here to be wrong. We long for a society that is shared, a Northern Ireland where different people can have a range of views and beliefs and where there is a lasting peace, but that society must be built upon the principles of truth and justice.”
Grant Hutchinson, another QUB student, challenged: “Would not the best memorial to Edgar Graham and the many other true innocent victims of the Troubles be that they planted the seed within our generation to build a Northern Ireland that was grounded in truth, justice, harmony and prosperity? May that be the desire of this generation.”
The remembrance event was also attended by a number of representatives of political parties and victims’ groups, including the South East Fermanagh Foundation.
Speaking afterwards, Anne Graham thanked the students who organised the memorial event for “honouring Edgar’s memory.”
Meanwhile, UUP leader Robin Swann MLA laid a wreath at Stormont this morning to mark the anniversary of Mr Graham’s murder.
Speaking afterwards, he said: “The murder of Edgar Graham was a huge loss to both his family and to unionism.
“There is no doubt that his talent and ability had already marked him out as a future leader of the Ulster Unionist Party and that Northern Ireland could have been a very different place had he been allowed to live.
“I would like to praise the students who organised what was a very thoughtful and dignified commemoration at Queen’s and my thoughts are with Edgar’s family at this time.”