Northern Ireland

Enniskillen memorial uncertainty 'hurtful' says victim's son

Enniskillen bomb memorial being removed
Image caption The memorial to the Enniskillen bomb victims was removed hours after being unveiled

A man whose father was killed in the Enniskillen bomb has said uncertainty over where a permanent memorial is to be sited has been very hurtful.

The bomb exploded at the town's cenotaph on 8 November 1987.

A memorial to the 12 killed, which was to stand on land beside the Clinton Centre, has been put in storage.

The Catholic Church trust which owns the land said it had not been consulted by the council and had not yet made a decision on the matter.

Image caption The memorial was unveiled on Wednesday

The memorial was unveiled on Wednesday in an event marking 30 years since the attack.

Stephen Gault, whose father, Samuel, was killed in the atrocity, said that it had been a very stressful time for the families.

Enniskillen bomb memorial: What the documents say

St Michael's Diocesan Trust, which owns the land on which the proposed memorial was to be placed, has said it only received documentation about the memorial in late September.

It added that it cannot make a decision before all of the trustees meet and discuss the proposal.

However, Mr Gault and his wife, Sharon, as well as the Ely Centre, which supported the memorial proposal, have all said that discussions and consultations had been ongoing with the diocesan trust.

In a statement, the Ely Centre said that St Michael's was informed of the proposal when the original planning application was submitted in January.

Image copyright Google
Image caption The area in red is where the original planning application proposed to site the memorial, before it was revised to be placed at the area in yellow

The planning documents held online confirm that the diocesan trust was informed when the original application was submitted.

However, the original application proposed situating the memorial on an area that is not owned by the trust - a footpath at a wall of the Clinton Centre.

Transport NI objected to this plan because it could potentially obstruct a pavement, so the plans were revised.

In the new application, the memorial was proposed for a paved area at the entrance of the Clinton Centre - an area owned by the diocesan trust.

"With red tape, in the very last minutes leading up the anniversary, the consent hasn't come from the people who actually own the ground that the memorial will go on," he said.

He added that planning permission was granted in July and that there had been "six months of dialogue and investigations into getting planning permission and those who own the land never objected in any way".

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Stephen Gault said the uncertainty over where the memorial will be sited has been very hurtful

"But all of a sudden, some several weeks before the anniversary, we came up against this final hurdle and obviously the memorial then had to be removed, it wasn't allowed to stay."

He said the memorial being taken away in the back of a lorry was "just disgraceful".

Sharon Gault, Mr Gault's wife and a Catholic parishioner at the church that owns the land, has written to St Michael's Diocesan Trust asking what "valid objections" it could have.

In the letter, seen by the BBC, she wrote: "I am bewildered as to why there would be any hesitation and opposition from St Michael's trustees not to support having a memorial."

Image copyright PA
Image caption The scene at the cenotaph in Enniskillen after the 1987 bombing

Speaking to Good Morning Ulster on Wednesday, Mrs Gault said that local clergy "were well aware of plans for the memorial" and there was "absolutely no indication at that stage that there was going to be any objections".

However, St Michael's Diocesan Trust said it had only received initial documentation regarding the memorial in late September.

"The trust wishes to place on record that, as owner of the property concerned, it was not consulted by the council in relation to the granting of planning permission.

"Nonetheless, the trust is in the process of giving due and careful consideration to all aspects of the request and has yet to come to any decision.

"There has been engagement between representatives of St Michael's Diocesan Trust and the Ely Centre since the submission of the above-mentioned documentation and we look forward to the continuation of that in the future."

It said that it was "sensitive to the memories and grief being experienced during these days by the families and relatives".

The Ely Centre, a Troubles-victims charity based in Enniskillen, said that the families had worked "tirelessly to resolve the issue" and that it would "encourage the landowner to reach a decision swiftly to ensure that the families suffer no more during this exceptionally emotive time".

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