Railway Road plaque marks first stage of Coleraine bomb memorial

Railway Road plaque marks first stage of Coleraine bomb memorial

A memorial plaque is now in place on the footpath at Railway Road in Coleraine, marking the spot where a car bomb went off in 1973.

Six people lost their lives in the explosion, with many more left injured and bereaved.

The plaque, which was kindly donated by Ivan Murdock and Sons, is the first stage in a wider commemoration project, which will include a new sculpture near the Town Hall and an oral history initiative.

The anniversary of the bomb takes place on June 12th, and the incoming Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council will hold a public event on the day to mark the installation of the commemorative stone.

The overall project is due to be ready in line with the 50th anniversary of the bomb next year, when a formal launch will also take place.

This week, the Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, Councillor Richard Holmes, met with some of those who have been involved in the process to date, including victims’ family members and those directly impacted by the bomb.

They were afforded a moment of quiet reflection at the site on Railway Road before the stone went on public display.

Speaking afterwards, the Mayor said: “Extensive engagement and consultation has taken place as we sought to place a permanent memorial in the town to remember the terrible events which unfolded on June 12th 1973.

“The family members of victims, and those directly impacted, have always been at the heart of this process and it was wholly appropriate that they were given this opportunity to view the memorial stone in place before anyone else.

“It provided them with an important opportunity to come together, with the dignity and respect they deserve, and I was very pleased to facilitate this.

“I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to everyone who championed this project, particularly the bereaved families and those directly affected by the bomb, as well as Ivan Murdock and Sons, for their input and support.

“The memorial plans were first initiated in 2018, and I am very pleased to see them progress to allow for a formal dedication of the complete project coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the bombing in 2023.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors

Caption

The Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council Councillor Richard Holmes pictured at the site of the memorial stone on Railway Road in Coleraine, along with Councillor Alan McLean who first proposed the motion.

Background

On the 12th June 1973, two car bombs exploded in Coleraine. The first, at 3pm on Railway Road killed six people, and injuring and impacted many others. The second, which happened a short time later, in Hanover Place did not result in any reported injury but caused further panic and confusion.

In 2018, ahead of the 45th anniversary of the Coleraine bomb, Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council passed a Notice of Motion that Council ‘give consideration, following appropriate consultation, to the erection of a permanent memorial to those who lost their lives.’ As such, Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council commissioned a consultation to gauge public opinion on the installation of a structural memorial.

A public consultation was completed in January 2021, which concluded that, whilst there was overwhelming support for a memorial, there was no consensus amongst the bereaved and injured about what a memorial should look like, or where it should be located.

On that basis, Council proceeded to commission further engagement and facilitation with the families of victims, those injured and impacted to seek consensus in relation to the memorial’s design, location, and wording.

Engagement afforded individuals with an opportunity to reflect and share their experiences, memories and perspectives in a manner which acknowledged their loss and suffering.  As a result of engaging in ongoing dialogue, working with a visual artist and facilitators and visiting potential sites within Coleraine, participants reached a majority consensus on the design, wording and location of a structural memorial and plaque.

Based on the findings and recommendations, Council agreed in September 2021 to the following:

Permanent Structural Memorial –A structural memorial will be located at the planters at the Town Hall.

Plaque: Additional to the structural memorial, requested by victims / families / those impacted to mark the location of the bomb with a plaque - area adjacent to 1-5 Railway Road, with a view to integrating the plaque onto the pavement surface. This marks the site of the first bomb which caused the death of 6 people and injuries of others.

Following the agreement of Council to proceed, participants approached Council with the offer to contribute to the implementation of the project.  The group had the plaque constructed by Ivan Murdock & Sons, who kindly fabricated and gifted the piece.  The group also plan to contribute to aspects of the memorial sculpture’s fabrication.

In terms of the fabrication and installation of the sculptural memorial at Coleraine Town Hall, it is the intention of council that this will be in place ahead of the 50th anniversary of the Coleraine Bomb in June 2023.

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