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Bus bombing controversy – 1989
THE controversy following the inquest on the eight soldiers killed in the Ballygawley bus bombing looks set to continue as the families of two of the soldiers have revealed that they intend to sue the Ministry of Defence for negligence.
This is amid allegations of an army cover-up over the exact circumstances of the incident.
The parents made the decision after evidence that the bus was lured into an IRA ambush by road diversion signs, was challenged by witnesses who arrived at the scene within minutes of the bombing, and also by the IRA and RUC.
The driver of the army bus, Private Anthony Mawhinney, told the inquest that he was forced to take the main Ballygawley to Omagh road – which, the inquest was told, is off-bounds to British military vehicles – because diversion signs at the Ballygawley roundabout blocked his normal route to Omagh.
He denied a suggestion that he had taken this route as a ‘short cut.’
The bus driver’s claim however has been disputed by a number of sources, including drivers and passengers who were travelling in private hire buses a short distance behind the army vehicle.
The IRA also denied placing the signs, while at the inquest itself both police and DoE officials denied any knowledge of legal diversions.
Julie Burfitt, whose son Jayson was among the eight who died, said she was inclined to believe the IRA’s statement regarding the barriers in which they said, “had such an ingenious ruse been required, and had it been the cause of a successful ambush, then we would have been the first to publicise it.”
Away with the fairies – 1964
RESIDENTS of the Cappagh, Pomeroy, area are waiting with interest to see what will happen when the ‘Fairies Fort,’ a prominent landmark in the area, is cut through by council workmen in the next few days during the course of road improvements.
Will they find the crock of gold, they wonder, that the ‘wee folk’ had hoarded up over the years, or just a heap of stones.
Surrounded by blackthorn bushes, which are often associated with fairies, the diamond-shaped ‘Fort’ has a hollow on top, and the older generation maintain that from a hole or chimney in this hollow smoke would be seen to emerge from time to time, as if the ‘wee folk’ had a fire underneath.
The area was always regarded with some awe by young and old, and no-one dared cut a tree or branch around it. Many stories were told by old people of hearing music, or seeing the fairies dancing around in the moonlight, or smoking their little clay pipes on the summit of the ‘Fort,’ while people travelling on the adjoining road tried to avoid passing the little hill after 12 at night, at which time the ‘wee folk’ would be out and about.
FLY IN SAUSAGE
A FIRM manufacturing sausages is to be told that Tyrone County Health Committee has received a complaint of a fly being found in a sausage.
B Morgan, county health inspector, told the committee that the dead fly was found embedded in the surface of the sausage meat and that the skin of the sausage was broken.
The sausage was in a pack wrapped in cellophane. An inspection of the factory plant disclosed that hygiene was very good.
Body left in outhouse – 1939
OMAGH Board of Guardians heard a complaint of how the body of a man who died at Dergmoney was left in an outhouse. Charles Hunter said when he accompanied some friends to take the body home they had to light a lot of matches to get the body out of the mortuary.
This was a man who had fought in the last war “and had served his country well.”
Mr Blair said he agreed with all that Mr Hunter said. When this man died his body was flung into an outhouse, or a sulphur fumigating house.
If they were supposed to be people with the cloak of humanity and Christianity about them then they should see that this did not happen again.
He had further information that rats were jumping over the body as it lay on the floor.
The Master said the man was unfortunately the first person to die at Dergmoney House and his body was placed in the mortuary.
Mr Hunter responded, “He was not the first man to die in Dergmoney House. There was a man named Nixon who died prior to that. Where was he put?
“I have it from a good source that he was kept in the ward.”
Continuing, the Master said it was a lie to say that the body was put on the floor; it was placed on a table in the mortuary.
“I object to such a statement being made that the body was on the floor and rats jumping over it.”
No action was taken.
Poor water supply – 1914
THE Local Government Board has released extracts from the medical officer’s returns for the Castlederg and Killeter dispensary districts for the half-year ended on September 30.
The extracts stated that the water supply to the district was very deficient. It added that the common lodging houses in the district were not registered, and the houses of the labouring classes locally were still in a deplorable condition being condemned, badly ventilated and too small in size for a family.
Tuberculosis was on the increase, chiefly due to the above condition. Castlederg Guardians decided to inform the local Government Board that the council had a labourers scheme in hand.
DODGING THE GERMANS
AN interesting story of how a young Belgian who is only about 20 escaped from Brussels when it was in German occupation has been told. It was by a clever ruse that the young Belgian was enabled to escape across the frontier.
He found himself in Brussels when the Germans took possession of the city and then all young men of his age were informed that they would be called upon to sign a declaration saying that they would not take up arms against the Germans or Austrians.
He decided to get out of Brussels and did so by removing the ink on his passport through the use of chemicals and passed on through with the help of his cousin.
He altered the passport to ensure that the party were enabled to travel on cycles to Antwerp via Malines. On seven occasions they were stopped by German soldiers and the passport was examined, but it always passed examination.