Friday 19 October 2018

Enniskillen bombing 30 years on: Families of victims vow to continue fighting for justice

Aileen Quinton, whose mother Alberta Quinton was murdered in the Enniskillen bombing, holds a quilt she helped make as a memorial Niall Carson/PA Wire
Aileen Quinton, whose mother Alberta Quinton was murdered in the Enniskillen bombing, holds a quilt she helped make as a memorial Niall Carson/PA Wire

Siobhan Fenton

Relatives whose loved ones were killed in the Enniskillen bombing have vowed to keep their memories alive and continue fighting for justice, on the 30th anniversary of the atrocity.

The IRA bomb exploded without warning ahead of a Remembrance Sunday memorial ceremony on November 8 1987, in one of the most infamous incidents of the Northern Ireland Troubles.

Eleven people were killed and scores more were injured. A 12th victim died in December 2000 after spending 13 years in a coma due to injuries sustained in the attack.

The Poppy Day bomb ripped through the Co Fermanagh town while locals were attending a ceremony at the war memorial.

The scene in Co Fermanagh town where an IRA bomb exploded without warning ahead of a Remembrance Sunday memorial ceremony. PA Wire
The scene in Co Fermanagh town where an IRA bomb exploded without warning ahead of a Remembrance Sunday memorial ceremony. PA Wire

The device was planted in a building close to the memorial and when it detonated the walls collapsed on top of those who had gathered to pay respects to the war dead.

The actions of the bombers stood in stark contrast to the response of bereaved father Gordon Wilson, who made headlines around the world with his words of forgiveness for those who killed his daughter Marie, a 19-year-old student nurse.

Another innocent victim of the Troubles was killed the following day when loyalist paramilitaries sought to retaliate by shooting a Catholic in west Belfast. Due to mistaken identity, they killed a Protestant student, Adam Lambert.

No one has ever been held to account for the Enniskillen bombing.

Joan Anderson, whose parents William and Agnes Mullan were killed in the attack, said: "You have to learn to live with it or else you're another victim and I refuse to be another victim.

"You heal to a point but it's inside you and it never leaves. Every day of my life I miss my parents.

"I can say that after 30 years, you finally get to the point where you can accept that it happened but you do not forget and I am still angry about it.

"I'm angry that right across Northern Ireland, good people have been killed and we have been forgotten about."

Aileen Quinton, whose mother Alberta was killed, said: "It's so hard to believe that it's been 30 years. There's just an unreality about it. At the time, it just felt too awful to be true and in many ways it still is. I'm no more used to it. It's still awful and it still matters."

Stella Robinson, whose mother and father Wesley and Bertha Armstrong died, said: "I think people born after the Troubles or after 1996 (the year of the IRA ceasefire), are not educated enough about what happened. I think they just want people to move on and they don't want to be reminded.

"But I just don't want this to be forgotten about. They were taken from us and I want people to know. I was very close to both my parents and they meant the world to me. I really miss them and I was robbed of 30 years of their life with me."

Victims' families and local representatives will attend a memorial unveiling on Wednesday at the site of the bombing.

Politicians and other dignitaries are expected to attend.

A memorial service will also be held at Enniskillen Presbyterian Church.

During a recent visit to Belfast, former US president Bill Clinton revealed that the Clinton Centre, a peace-building facility named in his honour and built on the site of the bombing, will receive a major investment towards its activities commemorating those who died.

Ten people were arrested in connection with the bombing but no charges were ever brought.

Detective Superintendent Ian Harrison, from the Police Service of Northern Ireland's Legacy Investigation Branch, said: "The Police Service of Northern Ireland remains committed to pursuing investigative options should they develop in the future."

Press Association

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News