A GROUP that works closely with victims of terrorism across Tyrone has said the site of the Ballygawley bus bomb memorial, which was extensively damaged last week, will be fully restored.
Display panels bearing the names of the eight British soldiers who lost their lives in the 1988 attack were significantly damaged, while a wooden panel used to display wreaths was also destroyed in the incident in which a vehicle was clearly involved.
The PSNI say the damage at the Curr Road site, which was reported on Friday and is believed to have occurred sometime during the night before, is being perceived as a “sectarian hate crime”.
Kenny Donaldson, the director of services for victims’ group SEFF (South East Fermanagh Foundation), condemned the incident as an “act of ethnic-motivated hatred”.
Mr Donaldson said, “To desecrate a space which seeks to respectfully remember the dead is beyond words.”
He added, “We commit in partnership with Ballygawley road families and the 1st Light Infantry Regimental Association to restore the site and bring back honour to those who have been grossly dishonoured.”
But UUP councillor Allan Rainey, who lives close to the site and visited it on Friday, said he believed the damage may have been caused by anti-social driving, rather than a targeted attack on the memorial.
“It is very disappointing to see, so much damage caused. The wooden display for the wreaths is completely wrecked and it has been taken away now,” explained the Fermanagh and Omagh councillor.
“You can see the marks on the grass, but whether it was a car that has gone out of control, we don’t know.
“Some of the damage looks to be deliberate.
“Further along the road, there are more marks along the verges of people’s lawns, where they seemed to be spinning the wheels of the car deliberately.
“Neighbours could hear the car revving at about midnight on Thursday.”
He added, “You don’t know what is going on inside these people’s heads. We have enough doom and gloom about at the moment with Covid-19, without this kind of thing happening.”
In 2018, a new memorial was unveiled at the site of the IRA bomb, which claimed the lives of eight soldiers, who were travelling on a bus when the roadside bomb went off.
Police are appealing for any information, witnesses or possible dashcam footage of last week’s incident.
A PSNI spokesperson said, “If anyone has any information please contact police on 101, and quote reference 357 02/10/20.
“Alternatively, information can be provided anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”