A commentary on the case of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, convicted of the murder of 270 people in the Pan Am 103 disaster.
Tuesday, 19 July 2016
Lockerbie priest to retire
[This is the headline over a report in today’s edition of The Herald. It reads as follows:] The Catholic priest who found himself at the centre of the Lockerbie disaster has been ordered by doctors to step down from the pulpit or permanently lose his voice. Canon Patrick Keegans was the parish priest in the town in 1988 and lived on Sherwood Crescent, which was destroyed as sections of Pan Am flight 103 fell from the sky killing 11 people in the street, as well as all those in the plane. His house was the only property on the street to be left largely unscathed. He later campaigned against the conviction of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi. But in recent days the administrator of St Margaret’s cathedral in Ayr has been told by his consultant to rest his voice completely with immediate effect. A statement on the cathedral website states: “The Canon’s vocal cords are damaged and he will lose his voice permanently if he does not follow the doctor’s advice. With rest his voice will heal, but it will not recover enough for him to engage in any public speaking. Canon Keegans, therefore, will be retiring from parish ministry.” [What follows is taken from a report published this afternoon on the website of The Press and Journal:]
The Catholic priest of Lockerbie who survived when 11 neighbours were killed in the Pan Am 103 atrocity has been ordered by doctors to step down from the pulpit – or permanently lose his voice due to a throat problem.
Canon Patrick Keegans, 70, was widely praised for the tireless help he gave bereaved families in the aftermath of the disaster but is sadly now having to retire on health grounds. (...)
Canon Keegans was at home with his mother when the wreckage of the bombed flight obliterated nearly every other property in the Sherwood Crescent area of Lockerbie in December 1988. (...)
As Lockerbie’s then newly-appointed parish priest, the young Canon Keegans had the grim task of helping police to identify the bodies of dead parishioners in the days after the disaster.
In an act of defiance, he soon moved back into his home in the street to show that the people of Lockerbie could cope with the effects of the tragedy.
Like many of the families of those on board the flight, he later opposed the conviction of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi for carrying out the attack and believed him to be an innocent scapegoat.
Canon Keegans is still in regular touch with the families affected by the disaster.
He said: “Lockerbie has always been and will remain part of my life forever. I’m still involved with the families both here and in America.
“I was very keen to see justice done but I think the authorities were so desperate to convict Megrahi and were too quick to dismiss other avenues of investigation.
“I love Lockerbie but I couldn’t live there forever, the disaster would have controlled my life and I couldn’t allow it to do that.”