Enniskillen: New memorial to victims unveiled 30 years after IRA bomb

The people of Enniskillen have joined together to remember their loved ones, 30 years after one of the darkest days of the Troubles.

Wednesday, 8th November 2017, 6:05 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 3:30 am
A memorial to honour the victims of the Enniskillen bomb is unveiled at Belmore Street, Enniskillen on the 30th anniversary of the atrocity

Several hundred people gathered for a memorial service at the town’s cenotaph, where an IRA bomb exploded during a Remembrance Sunday ceremony on November 8 1987.

Eleven people were killed in the blast and a 12th victim, Ronnie Hill, slipped into a coma and died 13 years later. More than 70 people were injured.

A new memorial to those killed in the attack was unveiled, as survivors and families of those who died were joined by dignitaries including Secretary of State James Brokenshire, Chief Constable George Hamilton and political representatives.

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Jim Dixon, who was seriously injured in the Enniskillen bomb, at the ceremony

The Rev David Cupples, of Enniskillen Church, told the crowd how the terrible events of 30 years ago had “changed the lives of everyone who was here that day and who are here today”.

He said 12 people, who were beloved family members, friends and neighbours, were “slain by the hands of wicked men”.

He spoke of the pain of the “shattered hopes and dreams” and the “struggle to carry on day by day” that many still face.

A hush fell over the town as a memorial bearing the names of the 12 dead was unveiled and wreaths were laid.

Viscount Brookeborough reads a message from the Queen during the ceremony to unveil the new memorial

The Ballyreagh Silver Band, who played at the 1987 Remembrance Sunday service, provided music for the ceremony.

The day after the bombing, 20-year-old Adam Lambert was shot dead in Belfast by loyalist paramilitaries.

The murder was intended to be a revenge attack for the Enniskillen atrocity, but the young Protestant was a case of mistaken identity.

In a written message read by Viscount Brookeborough, the Queen sent renewed sympathies to the families and victims.

Secretary of State James Brokenshire (left) looks on as Stephen Gault, son of victim Samuel Gault, prepares to lay a wreath

She said: “I am aware of the irreplaceable loss and profound sadness shared by so many families who lost their loved ones and of all those who were injured.

“I renew my sympathy with you all on this occasion. Whilst this memorial will serve your community as a permanent reminder of that tragic day it is my hope that by it the families who have suffered will be strengthened in the knowledge that those who lost their lives and the injured are never forgotten.”

Following the service Stephen Ross, who was seriously injured in the bombing, said he felt no bitterness or anger towards those behind the atrocity.

“I hold no grudges and I am able to ask God to forgive. I have no sense of bitterness. It only eats you up and consumes you. Being angry and being focused on that anger does nobody any good,” he told the Press Association.

DUP leader Arlene Foster with PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton

Mr Ross added: “It is a miracle I am still alive today. It is painful looking back but you get to stand with other people who have walked through difficult times, who have had to walk through their injuries and loss.

“It is difficult standing on the site. You still remember everything that happened on the day. I don’t think anyone will be able to erase those memories.”

Fundraising for the new memorial was spearheaded by Enniskillen-based victims’ group, the Ely Centre.

Jim Dixon, who was seriously injured in the Enniskillen bomb, at the ceremony
Viscount Brookeborough reads a message from the Queen during the ceremony to unveil the new memorial
Secretary of State James Brokenshire (left) looks on as Stephen Gault, son of victim Samuel Gault, prepares to lay a wreath
DUP leader Arlene Foster with PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton