Service recalls Enniskillen victims
At the very moment the families of those killed in the Poppy Day Bomb in 1987 paid their respects to their loved ones in Enniskillen yesterday, the sun peaked out from behind the clouds and a warm glow descended on a Fermanagh town that suffered unbearable devastation 25 years ago. The darkness that had blanketed Enniskillen for much of the morning’s moving service of remembrance and thanksgiving poignantly lifted for a moment.
The footsteps of those loved ones, with grief and pain still etched on their faces after all these years, echoed through the chilly November air as they took it in turns to lay wreaths at the Cenotaph on Belmore Street. That followed a minute’s silence at 10.43am, marking the exact moment the IRA bomb exploded in one of the darkest and deadliest days of the Troubles 25 years ago.
Secretary of State Theresa Villiers, First Minister Peter Robinson and other dignitaries, including Lord and Lady Hamilton, who were there on behalf of Queen Elizabeth listened as the names of the 12 people who died as a result of the bombing were read out against the backdrop of a stirring version of Abide With Me by flautist Alvin Mullan. The silence was broken by the tolling of 12 bells at St Macartin’s Cathedral. Addressing the service, Lord Maurice Morrow of the Democratic Unionist Party said he hoped those responsible would finally be brought to justice, adding: “Our hearts are heavy as we gather to remember those murdered here 25 years ago”.
Former Ulster Unionist Executive minister Sam Foster, who helped to pull the injured from the rubble in the aftermath of the bomb, read a scripture reading. Rev David Cupples, who lost six members of his congregation in the bombing was joined by the Rev Kenneth Hall, Canon John Stewart and Rev Sam McGuffin, who appealed for those in attendance to “find comfort and peace”.
A service of community remembrance and reflection then took place in St Macartin’s Cathedral, with family members leaving roses at the top of the church in a moving display of “pride, loving affection and gratitude”.
Bishop of Clogher John McDowell said Enniskillen bomb victims and bereaved experienced “just how limitless the wickedness and bitterness of the world can be” all those years ago. He told the 500-strong congregation: “To this day you bear the marks of bereavement or of acute physical suffering as constant reminders. Remembrance is your daily, even hourly companion.” Readings from the New Testament were delivered by Julian Armstrong, whose parents Wesley and Bertha Armstrong were killed, and Sharon Gault, whose husband Stephen lost his father, Samuel. Prayers were read by Kathryn Stone, Northern Ireland Commissioner for Victims and Survivors, Andrew McKibbin, former consultant surgeon at the Erne Hospital, Francis Allett, former member of Northern Ireland Ambulance Service and Fermanagh police inspector Roy Robinson.
After the service, the families of the bereaved were brought into a private room in the cathedral where a message from Queen Elizabeth who visited Enniskillen earlier this year and met victims, was relayed to them. In it she said her thoughts were with the victims, the bereaved and “all those who bear the scars of that dreadful act”.
Meanwhile, following the completion of an investigation by the Historical Enquires Team, a spokesperson for the PSNI has downplayed the suggestion that a fresh investigation into the bomb will be launched, stating only that its serious crime branch will “assess the potential for further work to be progressed”.