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Memorial to tragedy destroyed

Thursday, 12 July 2018

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THE destruction of a memorial bench erected to commemorate the tragic loss of three young people from Omagh in a drowning tragedy in 1975 has been widely condemned.
Police are investigating the cause of a fire that destroyed a picnic bench in the Hospital Road area of Omagh on Sunday night. It had been erected by the Blair Memorial Flute Band in honour of those who lost their lives. The PSNI confirmed to the Tyrone Constitution yesterday afternoon (Tuesday), that enquiries into the matter were ongoing and no one had been arrested.
It was reported that the bench had been set on fire shortly after 8pm. The bench itself has a deep emotional attachment with the area and the wanton destruction of this simple piece of recreational furniture has sparked a backlash both from local politicians and on social media.
The wider public got to know of the incident on Monday when the Blair Memorial Flute Band took to Facebook to expressed its disappointment and disgust at what had happened on Sunday evening. They pointed out the bench had remained untouched for 10 years.
"This is not only an attack on the band but also the community and the families that lost their loved ones that tragic day. Why or what was the point in attacking the memorial bench. This is either an attack to heighten tensions or someone who has little or nothing to offer to the community."
They included a short history of the reasons why the bench was erected.
"In 1975, at a time when Northern Ireland was a very dangerous place to reside, due to a campaign of intimidation, violence and terrorism, a group of young men from Omagh area, mainly Hospital Road but also Festival Park, Watson Park, Beattie Park and other areas had the idea of starting a flute band in the town. Like many other parts of the province, this was with a view to having a strong community and cultural identity.
Full story in this week's Tyrone Constitution...

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