Teebane inquiry demands could grow: minister

PACEMAKER BELFAST 15/01/2012'Sisters From L-r Ann Sharlow , Mable Cahoon and Matt Cahoon 'brother in Law ' of Oswald Gilchrist at a memorial service for the 20th anniversary of The Teebane bombing that took place on 17 January 1992 at a rural crossroads between Omagh and Cookstown in County Tyrone, . A roadside bomb destroyed a van carrying 14 construction workers who had been repairing a British Army base in Omagh. Eight of the men were killed and the rest were wounded. The IRA claimed responsibility'Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 15/01/2012'Sisters From L-r Ann Sharlow , Mable Cahoon and Matt Cahoon 'brother in Law ' of Oswald Gilchrist at a memorial service for the 20th anniversary of The Teebane bombing that took place on 17 January 1992 at a rural crossroads between Omagh and Cookstown in County Tyrone, . A roadside bomb destroyed a van carrying 14 construction workers who had been repairing a British Army base in Omagh. Eight of the men were killed and the rest were wounded. The IRA claimed responsibility'Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

A former Presbyterian minister who has worked with the families of those killed at Teebane has said if the Finucane family succeed in securing an inquiry then there will also be demands for a probe into the Tyrone bombing.

Twenty years ago today, eight Protestant workmen were killed after the IRA blew up their minibus as they travelled home from work at Lisanelly army barracks in Omagh.

In addition to the dead, six men were left seriously injured.

An HET report into the massacre was unable to identify any new leads in the investigation.

Despite 19 pieces of evidence recovered from the scene, no DNA evidence could be found to connect anyone with the murders.

The IRA claimed the atrocity at the time, but no one has ever been convicted of the bombing.

DUP MLA Trevor Clarke, whose wife Linda lost her 22-year-old brother Nigel in the bombing, has challenged Sinn Fein to come forward and condemn the atrocity, like they have condemned more recent atrocities.

Rev Ivor Smith, who has been working with the families since the atrocity, said he admired their strength and quiet dignity.

Some of the families have called for an inquiry into what happened at Teebane, and Rev Smith said he feels if the Finucane family are granted an inquiry, then these demands will grow.

“The Government have said there are going to be no more inquiries, however if they change their mind about things and hold inquiries into other things (such as Finucane) then the Teebane families will want Government to hold one into what happened to their loved ones,” he said.

Rev Smith first got involved with the Teebane families because one of those killed – David Harkness – had attended his church.

“Twenty years is a long time and I suppose the families have really supported themselves, through the shared experience of grief,” he said.

“Usually they are forgotten about by most people.

“To me the families are amazing people in how they have coped over those 20 years with tremendous dignity and courage going on with their lives.

“I take my hat off to them, I admire how they have held their heads high and are moving forward with God’s strength.”

The roadside memorial to those killed at Teebane remains covered in marks from a series of violent attacks on it.

Rev Smith has said the decision has been taken to leave the marks on the memorial as part of the story of Teebane.

The black stone which stands at Teebane crossroads where the bomb exploded 20 years ago has been attacked repeatedly since it was erected. It was completely destroyed in 1996 and replaced in 1997.

It was last attacked in 2005. It is not known if it was hit with a hammer or shot at. More than 20 marks remain on the memorial partially covering some of the eight men’s names.