Cautious welcome on Poppy Day memorial

Rev Kenneth R J Hall from St Macartin's Cathedral Enniskillen with Viscount Brookeborough unveiling the memorial in  Enniskillen for the victims of the Poppy Day Bomb on 8  November 2017'. The memorial was then put into storage. Photo: Press Eye
Rev Kenneth R J Hall from St Macartin's Cathedral Enniskillen with Viscount Brookeborough unveiling the memorial in Enniskillen for the victims of the Poppy Day Bomb on 8 November 2017'. The memorial was then put into storage. Photo: Press Eye

A woman whose father in-law was killed in the 1987 ‘Poppy Day’ bombing has given a ‘cautious’ welcome to news that a memorial to the victims is to be located “within the gable wall of the Clinton centre”, after a long-running standoff between families and a Catholic trust.

Eleven people were killed – including three married couples – and 63 were injured when an IRA bomb detonated during the annual Remembrance service at the town’s cenotaph. Another victim, Ronnie Hill, died after 13 years in a coma.

Former UUP MP Tom Elliott MP

Former UUP MP Tom Elliott MP

After consulting the families on their preferences the Ely Centre commissioned a large stone tablet, which lists the names of the 12 people who died, with a view to having it on permanent display at the scene of the atrocity.

However, St Michael’s Diocesan Trust, which owns the land, rejected the memorial. Director Monsignor Peter O’Reilly said the size of the memorial posed “insurmountable” problems for access and cited problems around maintenance and “liability” for insurance purposes.

Speaking in the News Letter in May, families of the bereaved offered an apparently unanimous call for the trust to accept their memorial.

One of a serious of meeting was held yesterday involving “all parties”, chaired by the Dean of Enniskillen Cathedral. The Very Rev Kenneth Hall said an agreement has now been reached.

“Good progress has been made and a solution has been reached by all parties involved to site the memorial within the gable wall of the Clinton Centre subject to necessary approvals,” he said in a statement. “However we envisage that this work will take time but all parties are committed to work together to complete this matter within a reasonable time scale.”

Sharon Gault, whose father-in-law Samuel was killed, gave a cautious welcome.

“While I acknowledge that this is a huge step forward for us I am cautious that we still have a few hurdles to go before the fitting tribute to our loved ones murdered by terrorists is placed at The Clinton Centre,” she said. “This has been a very stressful time and hopefully this unjust wrong will finally be righted.”

Former UUP MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone, Tom Elliott, who had been supporting the families, said: “I certainly welcome the progress and congratulate Dean Hall on his initiative.”

However he also addressed some concerns that a proposed “renewal” of the centre announced by Bill Clinton in October could disrupt plans for the memorial. “It may have been a throwaway remark by Mr Clinton and I have not heard anything further, but it would be a concern if it caused any delay in placing the memorial,” he said.