Enniskillen: Arlene Foster recalls IRA atrocity that '˜changed lives forever'

The DUP leader and former first minister writes about her recollections of the bombing and its impact on the town:

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 7th November 2017, 8:17 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 9:05 am
DUP leader and then first minister Arlene Foster lays a wreath during the 2016 Enniskillen Remembrance service.
Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
DUP leader and then first minister Arlene Foster lays a wreath during the 2016 Enniskillen Remembrance service. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

Thirty years tomorrow in Enniskillen, side by side, people from across the community, will come together once again at the War Memorial to remember innocent lives lost.

Scenes of destruction from that Remembrance Day in 1987, were spread across the world with the news that 11 innocent people were callously murdered. Thirteen years later, suffering with the effects of that day the news came that Ronnie Hill had sadly died.

I was a teenager attending Enniskillen Collegiate Grammar school and I distinctly remember the silence which hung in the air the days after the atrocity. When the Enniskillen bomb went off, lives became forever changed.

Enniskillen had been changed. We were a community in grief and the shock waves reverberated from Fermanagh.

The Poppy Day Bomb still has a profound effect. On many occasions I have met with the innocent victims from that day. Their stories typify the story of many innocent victims – one of courage and bravery in the face of evil.

I often recall the message of Gordon Wilson who lost his daughter Marie, a nurse at the time. In the most heinous of circumstances and with the world’s media watching, he spoke with such dignity.

His message of hope and forgiveness is resounding today. The terrorists who planned the attack did not win. They did not divide the people of Enniskillen.

Another survivor, Mr Jim Dixon who still receives treatment for the effects of the bomb, is a testament of resilience and strength. He founded the Ely Centre, to provide support to other innocent victims affected by terrorism.

Very personal accounts of that day and the legacy of IRA terrorism, still has both physical and emotional effect of which there can be no rewriting or time cannot heal.

Recently I was delighted to discuss with former US President Bill Clinton, our hopes for a permanent memorial inside the Clinton Centre on the site of the bomb. The evil of this day can never be forgotten, and it is important to have a fitting memorial which will act as a place of reflection and remembrance for the people of Enniskillen.

The 30th anniversary provides an opportunity for all to reflect. Although we may not fully comprehend the pain of loss on that day, we share in their grief. The impact of the Poppy Day Massacre is forever etched in the minds of those in Enniskillen.

We will continue to remember the lives of the 12 whom were friends, family and members of the community, who died as a result of the Enniskillen bomb.