‘Poppy Day’ bombers may never be caught

Stephen Gault at Enniskillen Cenotaph.
Stephen Gault at Enniskillen Cenotaph.

A REVIEW of the police investigation into the Enniskillen bombing is not expected to lead to any prosecutions or convictions, it is feared.

The report by the Historical Enquiries Team into the Poppy Day Massacre – which claimed the lives of 11 people in 1987 – is due to be released early next year.

Speaking to the News Letter ahead of next month’s 24th anniversary of the atrocity, the son of one of the victims has said he has had to face the reality that the IRA killers may never be caught,

Any new evidence uncovered by HET officers during their investigations, which are nearing completion, would be passed back to the PSNI.

But Stephen Gault, who lost his father Samuel in the atrocity, said there appeared to be no new leads into the bombing, which caused widespread revulsion.

“I have been in regular contact with the HET over the last five years about their ongoing work into the case,” he said.

“From the start we were told that there was little or no chance of there being any convictions for the bombings, and that position has not changed.

“I have not heard that there has been anything new, and I don’t believe we will ever see anyone prosecuted or convicted for the attack.”

Mr Gault, however, says he remains optimistic that the report will provide some answers, if not complete closure.

“We will have to wait and see what is in the full report, but hopefully we will be given some indication of what happened on that day, and why the IRA decided to target Enniskillen.

“I have been kept well informed by the HET, and I hope their report will shed some light and give us some kind of closure, though we will never have complete closure.

“As far as the Enniskillen bombing goes, this will be the final report into it, and it is important that the HET takes their time and gets it right.”

It has been widely reported that the IRA’s Northern Command — believed to be led at the time by Martin McGuinness — were responsible for planting the bomb close to the cenotaph in Enniskillen.

Last month, Mr McGuinness expressed his shame over the Poppy Day Massacre, but denied any involvement.

“I feel ashamed when incidents like that happened,” he told reporters on the Irish presidential campaign trail, adding: “I was not senior in the IRA then . . .”

Earlier this week, the son of an Irish soldier murdered by the IRA confronted Mr McGuinness and demanded that he name those responsible.

The actions of David Kelly — who was just nine years old when his father, Private Patrick Kelly, was shot dead — were praised by Mr Gault.

“When you see someone confronting McGuinness like that, they have to be congratulated, and I think it is something which more victims should do.

“He [McGuinness] still has questions to answer about Enniskillen as well, and it is important that people step forward and ask them.”

Meanwhile, it has emerged that the Orange Order held a meeting with the HET over the Enniskillen bombing to address growing fears over a lack of progress.

Robert Dane, county secretary of the Orange Order in Fermanagh, said: “We were given some encouragement by what we were told, that a report could be out in the next few months.

“I think it very important that the families are given some answers soon.”

A spokesperson for the HET did not confirm or deny claims that the report may be finalised within the next few months.

“The HET does not discuss the content or progress of review with anyone other than the families concerned,” the spokesperson told the News Letter.