26 May 2006

Celtic cross in memory of five shot by loyalists

Daily Ireland

by Ciarán Barnes

A monument is to be unveiled tomorrow in memory of five people murdered by loyalists in the townland of Bleary, Co Armagh.
The Celtic cross will carry the names of Gerard and Rory Cairns, John Marks, Joseph Toland and Joseph Toman who were shot dead by an Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) gang – riddled with RUC informers – that operated in the area.
The gang, led by British agents Robin Jackson and Billy Wright, murdered a total of 11 Catholics from Bleary between 1975 and 1993.
The monument in honour of the dead has been erected in the grounds of St Colman’s church in the parish of Tullylish.
Saturday’s unveiling takes place at 2pm, speakers at the event include campaigning priest Fr Des Wilson and Sinn Féin assembly member John O’Dowd.
Eamonn Cairns, whose sons Gerard and Rory were murdered in 1993, said the memorial was a tribute to the spirit of the community.
He said: “This community has suffered terribly at the hands of loyalist gangs. The UVF men involved in butchering people in this area were working closely with the security services.
“Despite this, they never broke the spirit of the nationalist population of Bleary. This memorial is a tribute to that spirit and to those who were murdered.”

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