New Sinn Fein mayor to attend service for Coleraine IRA bomb victims

Sinn Fein councillor Brenda Chivers was elected mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Council on Monday night
Sinn Fein councillor Brenda Chivers was elected mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Council on Monday night

The new Sinn Fein mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens is to attend a memorial service for those who died in an IRA bomb attack 45 years ago.

Six Protestant pensioners died and 33 other people were injured, including some schoolchildren, when an IRA car bomb exploded in Coleraine on June 12, 1973.

Sean McGlinchey, who is currently a Sinn Fein councillor, was convicted of the attack and spent 18 years in jail.

Now, Mr McGlinchey’s party colleague and newly elected mayor, councillor Brenda Chivers, has told the News Letter she will be present at a commemoration event in the Co Londonderry town on Sunday.

After officially taking up her new role at the council’s AGM on Monday, Ms Chivers said she wanted to be a mayor “for all citizens”.

And DUP MP Gregory Campbell has said Sunday’s memorial event presents “an opportunity” for the new mayor to put her pledge into action by “standing with that community in dignified remembrance of all those innocent people who were murdered and the others who were seriously injured”.

The East Londonderry MP added: “It would be backward and unacceptable for any mayor to try and qualify, justify, defend or excuse an atrocity of the magnitude of the Coleraine bombing.

“There is an opportunity now for Sinn Fein to demonstrate by their actions, not just their words, that they intend to move away from commemorating terror to the point where they could, with some credibility, stand with the innocent victims of terror rather than stand with it’s perpetrators.”

In response to Mr Campbell’s remarks, Ms Chivers told the News Letter: “I said I would give due consideration to all invitations when I was elected mayor.

“I will be attending Sunday’s remembrance service for the victims of the Coleraine bomb.”

A service of remembrance will be held in the Diamond, Coleraine starting at 2pm. It will be led by Rev Donard Collins of Killowen Parish Church.

In April, the SF members on the council abstained from a vote calling for a memorial service to be held to mark the anniversary of the bombing.

Speaking to the News Letter ahead of the vote, Mr McGlinchey said he regretted the deaths, but did not regret his IRA past.