A substantial memorial for two of the IRA men killed by the SAS – that vanished without trace in Co Monaghan – was not removed by local authorities, Monaghan Council has said.
The roadside tribute, in memory of Loughgall attackers James Lynagh and Padraig McKearney, was erected in 2007 on the Co Monaghan side of the Irish border around five miles from Clogher in south Tyrone.
Eight IRA men were killed by the SAS as they launched a gun and bomb attack on the small police station in the Co Armagh village on May 8, 1987.
Earlier this week the Loughgall Truth and Justice Campaign (LTJC) described the total removal of the memorial – which included a stone monument, pathway, iron railings and a flagpole – as a “horrendous act of disrespect”.
Two images of the scene show the memorial as it was, and then the barren site as it looks now.
The LTJC statement said: “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.”
No one has come forward to claim responsibility, or published any information on who was behind the site clearance, but Monaghan County Council has clarified that this was not a local council initiative.
The council also revealed that the monument had been erected without planning permission.
Its removal has baffled republicans, leading to hundreds of social media posts about who might have been responsible.
Saoradh vice-chair Mandy Duffy posted a Facebook message which said: “This can’t be just vandalism ... this has been removed and cleaned up afterwards in a very professional manner. Vandals don’t go to the bother of removing the debris.”
Mairead Kelly, whose brother Patrick was one of the eight IRA men killed, along with one civilian, at Loughgall replied: “Definitely or someone has done it to make it look like the council removed it – it’s mind boggling and so distressing.”
At the time of the Loughgall attack, Lynagh and McKearney were living in the border counties of the Republic while on the run from authorities in Northern Ireland.
TUV councillor Timothy Gaston said he was “astounded” at the number of people expressing support for a memorial to terrorists who were engaged in a “bloodthirsty assault”.
The Bannside representative said: “I trust this won’t be the last monument removed as there are plenty more which are a blight on the local community just like this one was.”