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  1. ITV Report

Lockerbie victims remembered in memorial service on 30th anniversary of bombing

  • Video report by ITV News Scotland correspondent Peter Smith

Memorial services have been held honouring the 270 victims of the Lockerbie bombing on the 30th anniversary of the tragedy.

Families of the victims, politicians and local community groups laid wreaths and observed several silences during a service at Dryfesdale Cemetery on Friday morning.

And in the evening, a memorial mass was held at Holy Trinity RC Church in the Scottish town, where Canon Pat Keegans - who was parish priest there in 1988 - paid tribute, as he told how he often stops to read the names on the Memorial Stone.

"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," he said.

"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.

The service and wreath-laying took place in Dryfesdale Cemetery, Lockerbie Credit: Jane Barlow/PA

"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."

Eleven people died in Lockerbie along with the 259 passengers and crew on board the New York-bound Pan Am Flight 103 when it came down on the night of December 21, 1988.

He also echoed doubts from some that those responsible had been identified and dealt with by the legal system.

"Some say that you have received justice. I am not at all convinced," he said.

"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."

The Memorial Stone in Lockerbie. Credit: PA

At the morning service, the Queen’s representative, Lord Lieutenant for Dumfriesshire Fiona Armstrong, laid the first tribute at the base of the memorial inscribed with the names of all 270 victims as a piper player.

Jeff Browne, Moderator of the Presbytery of Annandale and Eskdale, led the service. He said: “Whether you have come from the local community or from afar, whether you come with no faith, little faith or belong to a community of faith, know that the Lockerbie community welcomes you in love and peace today and every day.”

Pupils from local schools and Scouts and Guides groups and representatives of the emergency services laid flowers before the families of victims approached the memorial.

Rev Susan Brown, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, spoke at the service after wreaths were laid.

She said: “Scars from 30 years ago remain – they leave a mark that can never be removed, but while they will not disappear altogether and while we would never want to forget the horrendous cost of that single hateful act, we realise all the more acutely the sweetness of life and the need for it to be lived to the full.”

Mr Mundell, who is from the town, said ahead of the service: “On this 30th anniversary of the bombing of Flight 103 over Lockerbie, my thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of the 270 men, women and children who perished on that terrible night, and everyone else whose life has been touched by the event.

Floral tributes have been left in Lockerbie to remember the victims of the tragedy Credit: Jane Barlow/PA

“Lockerbie lost its anonymity that night. We went from a quiet small town to a centre of global attention in a few seconds. That was the scale of the challenge local people have faced, aside from the horrors of the air disaster itself. It has not been easy, nor have we been able to achieve the closure we would have wanted, even after 30 years.

“However, throughout, the people in Lockerbie have retained their dignity and stoicism, and offered friendship and support to those who lost loved ones.”

The majority of those on board were American citizens, including 35 students of Syracuse University in New York State.

Lord Advocate James Wolffe and Scottish Secretary David Mundell place wreaths during the service Credit: PA

A memorial was held at the university, and around 500 people were expected to gather at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia where a cairn made from Lockerbie stone stands in memory of those who died.

Pam Am Flight 103 was blown up by the detonation of an explosive stored in a suitcase in the hold.

Many believe the atrocity was committed in revenge for the downing of an Iran Air passenger flight by a US missile cruiser earlier in 1988.

The only person ever convicted of the bombing, former Libyan intelligence officer Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, died in 2012 after being released from Greenock jail on compassionate grounds.

His family and some relatives of the Lockerbie victims believe he was the victim of a miscarriage of justice and are fighting to clear his name.

The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission is currently determining whether a fresh appeal against the conviction should proceed to the courts.