'Passing of the years has not diminished the pain' for Teebane families

DUP peer William McCrea says the passing of the years has not diminished the pain and suffering of the families of the eight Protestant workmen who persished in the Teebane massacre.

Rev William McCrea and Rev Ivor Smith pictured at the 25th anniversary of the Teebane commemoration service.

Speaking ahead of the 30th anniversary of the atrocity this weekend, Lord McCrea said no one was ever held accountability for the murders which has added to the grief of the families.

The bombing on January 17, 1992 had a huge impact in the Mid Ulster area with five of the workers coming from the Cookstown and Magherafelt areas.

The Provisional IRA detonated a bomb planted in two barrels on the side of the road just as the van transporting the workers from Karl Construction was approaching the Teebane junction, a remote location between Cookstown and Omagh.

The victims were on their way home after working at Lisanelly Barracks in Omagh when the 300-500lb device was detonated at approximatley 5.10pm.

For the last 30 years the Rev McCrea and Cookstown Presbyterian minister Rev Ivor Smith have joined family members of victims at remembrance services on the anniversary of the bombing.

“It’s hard to believe that it happened 30 years ago,” said Lord McCrea. “I was standing in my livingroom when the call came through and I immediately went to the scene. It is just like yesterday.”

He recalls standing watching the men being put into ambulances. “But sadly, as you know, many of them never made it.”

Lord McCrea said “come rain, hail or snow” they have held a remembrance service for the victims and God willing” will continue to do so.

“It gives the families comfort and strength to know that their loved ones have not been forgotten and will not be forgotten.”

“They were brutally murdered by the Provisional IRA there are no other words for it and those who did it were sadly not brought to justice by man but have to face God’s justice.”

Lord McCrea, who has demanded an enquiry into the massacre on a number of occasions over the years, says he expects Sunday’s roadside service to be particularly poignant but he was happy to stand with the families as they remember their loved ones.

“It gives the families comfort and strength to know that their loved ones have not been forgotten and will not be forgotten.”

“They were brutally murdered by the Provisional IRA there are no other words for it and those who did it were sadly not brought to justice by man but have to face God’s justice.”

Victims’ campaigner Kenny Donaldson, South East Fermanagh Foundation’s Director of Services said: “30 years is a milestone anniversary and is generating interest from many quarters. However, the reality for those most directly impacted is that each and every day is an anniversary in its’ own right, there will be many dates throughout the year which hold special significance for the bereaved and also injured of Teebane.

“On this 30th anniversary we would re-issue an appeal for information concerning the Teebane massacre, there are people living within the community who possess the information which could bring to account those responsible; those who refuse to provide this information are complicit with the terrorists who actually carried out the attack.”

The anniversary is next Monday but on Sunday (January 16) a roadside service will be held at the memorial at 3pm.

At 6.30pm a Service of Remembrance and Thanksgiving is being held in Orritor Presbyterian Church.

The eight who died were David Harness (24), Gary Bleeks (25), and Cecil Caldwell (37), all from Cookstown; Robert Dunseath (25) and Oswald Gilchrist (44) from Magherafelt; Robert Irons (61) and his nephew Nigel McKee (22), from Ballymena, and John Richard McConnell (38), from Doagh.