Lodge Life: District lodge tribute to murdered brethren

A commemorative tablet has been unveiled in memory of eight Orangemen from Co Tyrone who were murdered by republican terrorists during the Troubles.

A special service of remembrance took place recently in Cookstown District Hall, where the roll of honour was formally dedicated. All of the deceased were members of Cookstown District LOL No 3.

Among the victims listed on the memorial plaque is prison officer David Black, who was shot by terrorists as he drove to work on the M1 in 2012. The 52-year-old father of two is the most recent Orangeman to lose his life because of republican violence.

The tablet also pays tribute to Henry Sandford; Robin Smyrl; John Eagleson; Trevor Harkness; Raymond McNicol; Albert Cooper and David Harkness.

All of the deceased were murdered over a 40-year period from 1973.

The first victim was Mr Sandford, an RUC reservist, who was killed when his police Land Rover drove over an IRA mine near Cappagh.

In 1977, Robin Smyrl, a part-time member of the UDR, was shot by the IRA at the Drumlea crossroads between Omagh and Newtownstewart.

Father-of-three John Eagleson, a lorry driver and RUC reservist, was shot by an IRA gunman as he rode his motorcycle to work.

In 1985, Mr Harkness, was part of a six-man UDR patrol targeted by a bomb near Pomeroy.

Raymond McNicol, also a part-time member of the security forces, was shot in an IRA ambush in Cookstown in 1988.

In 1990, UDR sergeant-major Albert Cooper was killed by a booby-trap bomb in his Cookstown garage. The 42-year-old had survived an attempt on his life two years earlier.

David Harkness, 23, was one of eight workmen killed by an IRA landmine in the Teebane crossroads massacre in January 1992.

The dedication ceremony was conducted by Rev Tom Greer.

District spokesman Trevor Wilson, said the tablet offered a fitting tribute to murdered brethren locally.

“This memorial initiative by Cookstown district officers and members will guarantee those who suffered directly due to republican violence will be permanently remembered; ensuring their sacrifice will never be forgotten.”

A total of 332 Orangemen and an Orangewoman were murdered during the Troubles – the vast majority serving as members of the security forces.

A stained-glass window in their memory is located at the Museum of Orange Heritage in Belfast.

Numerically, Co Tyrone suffered the greatest loss, with 85 members killed. The overwhelming majority of those cases remain unsolved.

Published on the 14th of December 2017
Article taken from the News Letter

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