Two IRA bombs on Tuesday June 12, 1973 killed six elderly Protestants – Francis Campbell, his wife Dina (72) and his sister Elizabeth Craigmile (76). The others were Robert Scott (72), Elizabeth Palmer (60) and Nan Davis (60). The only person convicted, Sean McGlinchey, later became a Sinn Fein councilor in the borough.
Nan Davis’ granddaughter, Lesley Magee, says families are now angered by the council giving only two to four days’ notice to unveil a plaque in their memory after 49 years.
“It’s been going on for 49 years – we’re trying to get this memorial erected,” she told the News Letter.
Last year, the council brought together relatives, who decided on a memorial plaque at the bomb site and another memorial in the nearby Diamond neighborhood in the city center.
“But over the weekend I received an email saying the plaque was going to be put up this Wednesday. But that’s not advice at all. Nan’s only living child is in London, is 80 years old and undergoing treatment for cancer. There is simply no way to make him come for Wednesday.
Other family members cannot come because they only received a letter on Saturday or Monday evening. So I say there’s something terribly fishy going on – it’s so low key.
She asks why the relatives only received a few days notice? Why does the inauguration take place at the end of the working day, at 5 p.m., just before a long holiday weekend “when no one will be there” – and not at 3 p.m. on the anniversary day of June 12? And she asks why the board didn’t send out a press release about the unveiling, as she thinks is normal practice? However, the council’s response does not appear to offer clear answers to his questions.
He confirmed that the mayor will meet some of his relatives on Wednesday at the plaque and they will then be invited to his living room.
“This has been arranged to provide them with a private moment of reflection, allowing them to view the commemorative plaque which will be installed on Railway Road before it is put on public display ahead of the anniversary of the bombing which occurs on June 12, offering them the space, dignity and respect appropriate to the circumstances,” a council spokeswoman said.
The council said final permission for the stakeout was not received until May 20 and that this “also impacted the timing”. He is also “aware of a key member of the group involved who is in poor health”, he added.
“The installation of the plaque marks the first phase of a larger project to commemorate the victims of the 1973 bombing. The overall initiative is expected to be completed before the 50th anniversary which takes place in 2023, when an official launch will take place to include a sculpture at Coleraine Town Hall alongside an oral history project.