A memorial to two IRA Volunteers killed by the SAS has been destroyed in a shocking large-scale attack in County Monaghan this week.
The monument, to Jim Lynagh and Padraig McKearney, two of eight IRA men massacred by the SAS in the 1987 Loughgall ambush, was completely destroyed and almost entirely removed by a digger earlier this week.
The structure, a large memorial encased in ornate granite and surrounded by a wrought iron fence, was erected in 2007 at Drumfurrer in County Monaghan close to the border with Tyrone.
A statement issued on Wednesday night on behalf of the Loughgall Truth and Justice Campaign extended their sympathies to to the families of the men who were memorialised.
“This evening we were alerted to the devastating news regarding the desecration of the monument at Drumfurrer. Such a horrendous act of disrespect and disregard not only to the memory of the Volunteers but also an assault on the families of these men.
“We are truly shocked and astounded that anyone would remove, in its entirety, a monument that was not only a beautiful and truly fitting memorial to Volunteer Jim Lynagh and Volunteer Padraig McKearney but also a place where families and friends could go to reflect and pay their respects to the men who had fought and died for their country.”
Both men were legendary IRA figures who were targeted in a shoot-to-kill operation, and allegations have persisted that their plans to attack an RUC base were revealed by informers.
A campaign, led by Mairéad Kelly and Róisín Ní Cheallaigh, vowed to rebuild the monument:
“To do this to any of the Loughgall families is to do it to us all. It is a very upsetting and sad time but our memories and thoughts cannot be erased. We will remember our heroes with the respect and dignity that they deserve.”
The source of the attack remains a subject of speculation, but the lack of a response from politicians, media and other campaigners came in for criticism.
In a follow-up message, the Loughgall Campaign pointed to the failure of nationalist politicians and mainstream media to take issue with what otherwise would be considered a serious incident.
They tweeted: “Where is the outcry? Where are the media, family support groups, and individuals who would normally be at the forefront highlighting and expressing condemnation of a barbaric and outrageous act of desecration not only to the deceased but to their families. Where are you?”
A Go Fund Me page has been set up in order to raise funds to rebuild the memorial.
“The money that is being raised will go towards the rebuild of the Monument. This includes a new headstone, new surroundings, new fencing and the upkeep of the Monument,” wrote Grainne Campbell, who is fundraising and is friends of the two families.
The campaign can be supported here.