DAPHNE Stephenson and her husband Alan were at the Enniskillen Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday, as they were every year.
The couple were running later than usual and were unable to get to their preferred vantage point due to the large crowd of onlookers.
“We had only just arrived and were talking about moving somewhere else because we knew the British Legion would be coming and standing in front of us.
“I didn’t hear any bang. Our backs were to the Reading Room wall (the location of the bomb) and like in slow motion, a black cloud came over our heads and then I got blown off my feet from the source of the explosion.
“The rubble then came and fell on top of me. I was completely buried – every bit of me. There was a second or two and then even more came and I can remember grimacing under the rubble at the awful whack my leg got.
“I couldn’t move and was completely trapped. Among all the dust and rubble, there was a tiny air pocket, just about the length of my nose to the tip of my chin, and that’s what I had to breathe.”
Mrs Stephenson said she was only seconds from death as the air around her mouth was getting increasingly hot and short on oxygen. Even after all these years, her voice is filled with emotion as he recalls the horror.
“The Lord spared my life because I was seconds away from being among the number of those who were killed. I could hear men shouting, presumably the UDR men, ‘There’s someone here, there’s someone here’, and there were several people taking off the rubble. My mouth was full of dust and they were tying something around my leg to stop the blood gushing.
“I’ll always remember being in the ambulance and there was a man lying on the floor with a [UDR] Greenfinch holding his hand. He wasn’t responding, just moaning. I was in total shock on the way to hospital.
“My husband was only half buried but got a broken collar bone and needed his hand stitched. He was taken to hospital thinking I was killed.
“A while after being X-rayed, a doctor came and told me I had a broken pelvis and my ankle was broken. I also had a broken finger and broken teeth. I had severe lacerations on my legs too and needed a lot of stitches. One of my brothers came in to see me but he walked past the bed and didn’t recognise me.
“I was almost a month in hospital. I had to learn to walk again and the pain was indescribable.”
A brief respite from the horror of coming to terms with the injuries was provided by a Royal visit, as Mrs Stephenson explained.
“Nine days after the bomb Princess Diana and Charles came to see us and I got their autographs in my Bible. It was very nice to meet them but I remember whenever they left again just going completely down. It was a long road back to recovery.”
When asked if she shared the many conciliatory sentiments Gordon Wilson expressed in the years after the bombing, Mrs Stephenson said: “I wouldn’t have had that attitude at all. The people who caused the explosion didn’t ask to be forgiven and haven’t shown any repentance whatsoever.
“Shortly before the explosion happened, there were 30,000 Fermanagh citizens who voted for a republican hunger-striker. I can remember a Catholic priest coming to my hospital bed and I said to him ‘I don’t want anything to do with you. Why are you coming here sympathising with me when your own people are voting for murderers?’
“There has never been anybody brought to justice and I feel the victims have been forgotten about. There was millions spent on Bloody Sunday yet nothing for Enniskillen.
“It’s as if we don’t matter.”