Lockerbie victims live on in our hearts, says priest

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The man who was parish priest in Lockerbie in 1988 has said the victims “live on in our hearts” at a service marking the 30th anniversary of the bombing.

Canon Pat Keegans delivered a homily during a memorial mass at Holy Trinity RC Church in the town on Friday evening.

He spoke of the aftermath of the disaster and how those who died on the night of December 21, 1988 will not be forgotten.

Canon Keegans also told how when he is in Lockerbie he visits the Memorial Stone at Dryfesdale Cemetery and reads the names of the 270 victims, among them people he knew in the town.

He said: “There you are, Joanne Flannigan from Sherwood Crescent. You are only 10. I remember you and I remember your friend Lyndsey Sommerville, who is 10, and her brother, Paul, who is 13.

“And you, Joanne, and Paul and Lyndsey are delivering Christmas cards. You ring my doorbell. You hand me a card. You smile and say, ‘Have a nice Christmas’ and all three of you die.

“But, as with all who died on that evening, whose names are engraved along with yours, you are not just a list. You are not just a distant memory.

“You are not from the past. You are precious people who live on in our hearts, for that is where your names are truly engraved.”

He added: “Some say that you have received justice.  I am not at all convinced.

“What I can promise is that we will not close the book on the story of your lives, for the last chapter is still to be written: Pan Am 103. The truth must be known. The whole truth.”

Canon Keegans praised the way those in the town dealt with the aftermath of the tragedy.

30th anniversary of Lockerbie bomb
Canon Keegans praised the way people in Lockerbie dealt with the aftermath of the tragedy (Jane Barlow/PA)

“All that we looked for was healing, recovery and justice.”

The service was led by Bishop William Nolan, with Father Jim Hayes the current parish Priest and Canon Keegans as guest preacher.

Bishop Nolan said: “Although 30 years have passed since the tragic events of December 21 1988, the memories of the community of Lockerbie have not faded or diminished.

“The church today, as then, offers solace and support to all those affected and will continue to be present in the community of Lockerbie, praying for and supporting the town and its people as well as the American victims and their families.”

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