Northern Ireland

Enniskillen Poppy Day bomb memorial unveiled

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Media captionTwelve people were killed and dozens more injured in the 1987 bomb attack

A memorial to 12 people killed in an IRA bomb in Enniskillen has been unveiled in an event marking 30 years since the attack.

The bomb exploded at the town's cenotaph on 8 November 1987 during a Remembrance Sunday ceremony,

Eleven people were killed in the bombing. A twelfth victim, Ronnie Hill, slipped into a coma two days afterwards and died 13 years later.

The Queen sent a message to those gathered at the anniversary ceremony.

She said the memorial was a poignant reminder of a terrible event.

Image caption The Enniskillen Poppy Day Bomb memorial was unveiled during the ceremony

DUP leader Arlene Foster, PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton and NI Secretary James Brokenshire were among those who attended Wednesday's ceremony at the cenotaph, along with families and relatives of those killed and injured.

The head of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, George Hamilton, said it was "a huge regret to me that no one has ever been brought to justice" for the Enniskillen bombing.

He added: "My heart goes out to the families today".

After a two-minute silence, the names of the dead were read and 12 bells tolled.

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Media captionWho were the victims of the Enniskillen bombing?

Family members and dignitaries laid wreaths at the new memorial.

The Ballyreagh Silver Band, who played at the 1987 Remembrance Sunday ceremony, provided music for the ceremony.

The service was led by the Reverend David Cupples and the main address was delivered by the Reverend Michael Davidson, whose father was killed in an IRA attack in Belfast in 1979.

"I believe we need more than justice," Mr Davidson told those gathered at the memorial service.

"I believe that even if we were to receive the justice we deserve in a legal sense tomorrow, while it might bring some satisfaction, I do not believe it would bring peace or closure.

"We need more than justice - we need healing."

The former first minister Arlene Foster described the atmosphere at Wednesday's service as "very eerie".

"There was a lot of silence and people were being very reflective, and, I think, people are being very reflective of the horrific nature of what happened on that day," she said.

There is controversy over where the memorial will be eventually be placed. In the meantime, it has gone into storage.

'Daddy, I love you'

Remembrance Sunday 1987 was a day that the people of Enniskillen would never forget.

They bear the scars.

The bomb blew out walls, showering the area with debris and burying some people in several feet of rubble.

Fast forward 30 years and on Wednesday, families will gather at the new Presbyterian Church hall to remember the horror that brought them together and to reflect on how times have changed for Northern Ireland.

Shortly after 10:00 GMT, they made their way just a few yards up the road to the area around the war memorial, remembering those who made that fateful journey in 1987.

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Image caption People were buried in several feet of rubble

One of those who set the tone after the bombing was Gordon Wilson, whose daughter Marie was killed and who was himself injured in the attack.

He repeated his 20-year-old daughter's final words to him as they both lay in the rubble of the bombing.

"Daddy, I love you very much," she said.

Mr Wilson said: "I bear no ill will. Dirty sort of talk is not going to bring her back to life. She was a great wee lassie."

A group called Enniskillen Together was set up to further the cause of reconciliation in the area.

The IRA lost support worldwide after the bombing.

On Remembrance Day 1997, the leader of the IRA's political wing, Sinn Féin's Gerry Adams, formally apologised for the bombing.

The bomb exploded at 10:45 GMT on 8 November 1987. There was no warning given.

Those who died in the attack were all Protestant and included three married couples, a reserve police officer and several pensioners.

The victims were:

  • Edward Armstrong
  • Wesley and Bertha Armstrong
  • Samuel Gault
  • Kitchener and Jessie Johnston
  • William and Agnes Mullan
  • Johnny Megaw
  • Albertha Quinton
  • Marie Wilson
  • Ronnie Hill
Image caption DUP leader Arlene Foster and NI Secretary James Brokenshire were among those who gathered for Wednesday's ceremony

Following the attack, the Queen sent her "heartfelt sympathy" to the people of Enniskillen and the then Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, called it "utterly barbaric" and "a blot on mankind".

There were 10 arrests in connection with the bombing, but no-one has ever been convicted of the attack.

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