23 May 2006

Mother of UDA victim tells of disgust at sick cemetery thugs

Belfast Telegraph

By Jonathan McCambridge and Claire Regan
23 May 2006

The devastated mother of a UDA murder victim has spoken of her disgust after sick vandals desecrated his grave.

Up to 30 plots were attacked in a weekend wrecking spree in Carnmoney Cemetery in Newtownabbey - many of them the graves of children and babies.

Trinkets, vases, ornaments and flower displays were destroyed in the cemetery. Security patrols are now set to be stepped up by Newtownabbey council.

Carnmoney Cemetery has been the focus of simmering sectarian tensions in Newtownabbey in recent years. The annual Catholic Blessing of the Graves service has sparked loyalist rioting in the past and previous years have also seen headstones smashed.

One of the graves targeted on Saturday was that of Daniel McColgan. The 20-year-old Catholic postman was shot dead by the UDA as he arrived for work in January 2002.

His mother Marie told the Belfast Telegraph that his grave had now been violated on at least three occasions.

In 2002 his headstone had to be replaced after it was completely destroyed.

"To be honest it is just so much to take in at the minute," said Ms McColgan

"I went up to the grave on Saturday night and noticed that all the wee trinkets and flowers had been smashed against the headstone. I looked around and saw that there was stuff scattered around the ground from lots of other graves.

"The people who did this have no respect for people whether they are dead or living. When we were kids we would not have gone anywhere near a grave."

"We just have to tidy up once more and try to move on. It is heartbreaking everytime this happens because it is such an insult to Daniel."

Local SDLP councillor Noreen McClelland said: "I visited the grave and it is fair to say that people there are just absolutely devastated. Quite a number of the graves which were targeted were of babies.

Newtownabbey council confirmed yesterday that a private security firm which has been patrolling the graveyard after earlier incidents of vandalism is to be asked to increase its watch.

Local parish priest Rev Fr Dan Whyte described the weekend's incident as "straightforward vandalism" which did not target any particular religion.

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