Northern Ireland

Foster offers to act as facilitator in Enniskillen memorial row

Arlene Foster
Image caption Arlene Foster says she will facilitate in any way that she can

Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader Arlene Foster has offered to intervene in the row over the location of the Enniskillen bomb memorial.

Mrs Foster said she would "facilitate" in any way that she could.

She said there had been a "breakdown in communication" between the parties involved.

Twelve people were killed and 68 others were injured in the bombing in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh on Remembrance Sunday 1987.

A memorial had been unveiled at an event marking 30 years since the attack but has been taken down and put into storage.

The Roman Catholic diocese, which owns the land, said it had not been consulted by the council. The families of those killed now want the head of the Catholic Church in Ireland to step in.

Mrs Foster said "face-to-face" dialogue between the parties involved, including the church and the victims' families, needs to take place.

"I will facilitate and help in any way I can," she said.

Image caption The memorial was unveiled at an event marking 30 years since the attack

Mrs Foster said she does not want to make the matter a "political issue".

She also said that she hopes that a meeting can happen sooner rather than later.

"The last thing we want is for this to continue to be a running sore in Enniskillen and in fact, I would argue that it is actually affecting a lot of people even wider than the County Fermanagh community."

Location rejected

The proposal by families to place the memorial outside the Clinton Centre in Enniskillen, has been formally rejected by St Michael's Diocesan Trust.

Monsignor Peter O'Reilly, the parish priest of Enniskillen, told the BBC last week that the move was not about rejecting any memorial or the content of the memorial, but this particular memorial and its proposed location.

He told BBC's Good Morning Ulster programme: "We are open to other proposals."

In a statement from St Michael's Parish, a spokesman said: "Let us be very clear: the trust has no objection to a permanent memorial being erected to the victims of the Enniskillen bombing.

"The sheer size of the memorial, taken together with the high volume of footfall on the public footpath in front of the Clinton Centre, and the connected issues of access to the school at the side and rear of the building, would make the proposed location unsuitable from the point of view of the health and safety of the public."

Image caption The memorial being removed and put into storage

Stephen Gault, whose father was killed in the atrocity, said he was "deeply hurt but not surprised," by the decision.

"Upset is an understatement. The families are hurting immensely over this.

"This is a single tribute to our loved ones brutally murdered at the hands of terrorists.

"As regards the size of it, when the planning was applied for the dimensions were there to be seen in the planning application.

"If the Catholic church are surprised by the size, I find it hard to believe."

'Some compromise'

Margaret Veitch whose parents were both murdered in the bomb claimed that no-one from the church would meet them.

"I would like a face-to-face meeting and maybe we could come to some compromise. We have requested one for months.

"We can't change the wording on the memorial because we're only telling the truth and how can you put 12 names on a smaller memorial?"

Both Mrs Veitch and Mr Gault said they had received no support from politicians or churches in the area.

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