Enniskillen families’ fears ‘not allayed’ by Catholic Diocese statement over memorial

Stephen Gault, who lost his father in the Enniskillen bomb, laying a wreath at the Remembrance Sunday ceremony in Enniskillen.  Picture: Ronan McGrade/Pacemaker
Stephen Gault, who lost his father in the Enniskillen bomb, laying a wreath at the Remembrance Sunday ceremony in Enniskillen. Picture: Ronan McGrade/Pacemaker

Stephen Gault, whose father Samuel was killed in the 1987 IRA bomb, said the fears of victims around the placing of the memorial in Enniskillen had not been allayed by the statement issued by the Diocese of Clogher.

Mr Gault told the News Letter: “The statement hasn’t said anything to allay our fears. It says they’ve no objections to the memorial which is welcome, but they haven’t actually given us the final consent.

“We’re in the same position as we were prior to the unveiling on Wednesday. The only difference is we now know they’re not objecting to it.”

Mr Gault said that during a meeting last month with Fermanagh University Partnership Board, who lease the Clinton Centre where the memorial would be located, they had told him “they had no problem with the memorial and at the end of the day it’s up to the Diocesan Trust”.

He added: “Now we’re back to square one where the trust is saying it’s up to Fermanagh University Partnership Board, so we’re back to playing one off against another which is adding more stress and strain to the families.

“I understand their concerns but these concerns could have been addressed months ago. I just hope this is not going to be a long drawn out process that will add more hurt to the families.”

Mr Gault said he was pleased that the church had expressed no objection to the memorial’s wording to say the victims had been ‘murdered by the IRA’. “It can’t be a rewrite of history,” he said.

Meanwhile Mr Gault told how his mind was taken sharply back to 1987 during yesterday’s remembrance service in St Macartin’s Cathedral in Enniskillen.

He said: “In church the fire alarm had been set off. I got into a state of panic, because at the time of the bomb the first thing I heard was a shock alarm ringing and that alarm ringing in the service took me back to the events of 30 years ago.

“I’d also heard there was a bomb scare in Omagh so that was playing on my mind. I was beginning to get awful thoughts. There were a lot of people felt uncomfortable.

“For a moment I was thinking, ‘Oh my God, this is happening all over again’.

“Thankfully there was an announcement a child had set the alarm off accidentally.”

Mr Gault said the service was particularly poignant given that it fell 56 years to the day when his father was shot whilst serving with the RUC in south Armagh and his best friend and colleague was killed.

The Enniskillen service was attended by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar who laid a laurel wreath at the site of the 1987 atrocity.

Mr Varadkar was continuing the tradition of his predecessor as Irish premier, Enda Kenny, in attending the Remembrance Sunday ceremony.

DUP leader Arlene Foster, Secretary of State James Brokenshire, and Police Service of Northern Ireland Chief Constable George Hamilton also laid tributes.

The US government’s representative in Northern Ireland, Dan Lawton, also placed a floral wreath beside the monument to the fallen.