The definitive account of the only case of its kind in Northern Ireland, the ongoing campaign for justice and a tribute to the victim of a tragedy still unsolved after 31 years
By Keeley Moss
PART 20 - CONTENTS Chapter 53: Time Machine Postscript: Glasgow Central 1988 (A film by Barry Coward) Acknowledgments for Part 20
Chapter 53: Time Machine
I’m landing back in this year
Did I ever move?
Did I disappear?
If I could move through time
I’d go back and put it right
Ride – ‘Time Machine’
Glasgow is one of the places Inga passed through on what turned out to be the last day of her life, April 6th 1988. Due to her hectic schedule that day, which involved near-constant travel, she had barely seen any of Glasgow, having only gotten to spend approximately ten minutes walking through the city as she made her way from Queen Street station (where she had disembarked from a train) to Central Station where she had to catch her next train connection, one that would take her to Ayr to connect with the boat train to Stranraer, a link in the chain of catastrophe that led to her boarding the Galloway Princess and which would later that night culminate in her murder virtually upon arrival in Northern Ireland.
Once I’d arrived in Glasgow city centre, I resolved to ramble around without the use of a map and just see where I ended up. After roughly an hour of wandering around I suddenly caught sight of Central Station. A huge, imposing-looking building replete with a large archway through which traffic passes, Glasgow Central is the principal mainline rail terminus in the city and is protected as a category ‘A’ listed building. I made my approach to it slowly, conscious of wanting to take it all in. All around me people were going about their daily business, focusing on getting to or from the station, about to embark on the next stage of their respective journeys, their minds solely concerned with the here and the now. But to me, for now, the here and the now was irrelevant – for this was the location that on the early afternoon of April 6th 1988 saw the arrival of a German explorer bristling with artistic potential and transfixed with excitement at the prospect of the culmination of her greatest dream, her imminent arrival on the island of Ireland.
Walking into the ground floor level of the station, my mind consumed by visions I could only imagine, I tried to picture Inga taking these same steps, bearing the weight of her backpack on her tired teenage shoulders as she strode into the building on one of the last legs of her journey – and on the last day of her life. With no idea of what lay before her, and no concept of the horror that would follow. I felt the same feeling that I had at Larne ferry terminal and at Ballypatrick Forest. A feeling that try as I might I just can’t quite describe, a feeling that only music makes sense of in my mind.
I made my way to the ticket office on the ground floor and joined the queue. I wasn’t planning on catching a train. But I wasn’t quite ready to move to the upper level of the station yet. I needed to be here, to feel here. To stand here and soak up the moment. It felt heavy. It always does. But that’s no reason to run from it, no reason to run from the past. The past informs the present. And the present is dependent on learning enough from the past in order to form a better future – or any future at all.
I walked towards the escalators on the other side of the ticket office. Unlike the ones on the far side, these ones would take me to the upper level. I placed my feet onto the escalator and thought of Inga standing in this very same spot. She had definitely stood here, as she entered the station the same way I had, walking in from the street having made her way from Queen Street station. The only way to get to the train she needed to catch was to go to the main concourse on the upper level, and to do that she would have had to take this very same escalator.
After going up the escalator suddenly I was standing in the main concourse, a far bigger and far brighter section of the building than the level I had just come from, one with natural light rather than the artificial lights down below. I stood there for a moment and looked at the huge expanse before me. She was in my mind’s eye the whole time. 1988. 2018. A feeling of frustration. Taunted by the uselessness of hindsight. The impossibility of turning back the clock, of rewriting history. All we have is now. The future is unwritten. Which makes justice in this case all the more vital. For while we can’t rewrite the past, what we can do is close an open wound, right an ancient wrong, write a better present and form a brighter future in the process.
It was from one of these platforms where Inga caught the train to Ayr on the afternoon of April 6th 1988. She was here, she walked right through here on her way not just to Stranraer, not just on to Larne, but to the strangest and cruellest fate, to the darkest and longest tunnel of torment. Perhaps it’s just because I’m so wrapped up in her case, but as I cast one last look around the main concourse of the station, I sensed a strong and lingering sadness, a silence without solace, pain where there should be peace. Inga’s trying to make her way to her next destination, but unlike that fresh Spring day in 1988, she isn’t trying to get to a train station or a ferry terminal. She isn’t looking to get to a hostel to put her head down for the night. Her spirit is surely seeking an end to the longest road of all. She was travelling and exploring then, and in a very different way she is still travelling, still searching, still seeking now. Except unlike in April 1988 she isn’t on her own anymore. I’m by her side. So is John Dallat MLA. So too are thousands of people across County Antrim, and many other people in the 107 countries around the world who I can tell from the analytics section read this blog. And this ‘long march’ will go on for however long it takes.
There is a light that never goes out.
Postscript: Glasgow Central 1988 (A film by Barry Coward)
This remarkable nine-minute clip was filmed in 1988 but remained unseen for 25 years until it was posted online in 2013. Belonging to a world that’s gone, it poignantly captures the ambience of Glasgow Central at roughly the same time Inga was there.
May 28th 1969 – April 6th 1988. Never forgotten.
Copyright: Keeley Moss ℗&©2019. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced in any form without the permission in writing from the copyright owner.
Acknowledgements for Part 20
‘Time Machine’ lyrics written by Bell/Colbert/Gardener/Queralt. Published by EMI Music Publishing ©1992
Glasgow Central 1988 © Barry Coward 2013