Son of Enniskillen bomb victim calls for peace
A man who lost his father, after the IRA killed Remembrance Sunday worshippers, marked the 25th anniversary of the attack by appealing for no return to violence.
Days after the shooting dead of a prison officer, an emotional Stephen Gault laid a floral tribute to his retired police officer parent at a special service remembering the Enniskillen Poppy Day bomb attack in the North.
Eleven people including three married couples and pensioners died at a commemoration for the dead of two world wars. A twelfth death was recorded later.
Their names have since been added to the Cenotaph in the Co Fermanagh town.
Lord Maurice Morrow told a crowd of veterans and relatives today: “They were not soldiers answering for battle. They were not armed. They were not at the Cenotaph to harm or do anyone harm.
“They were deemed however to be legitimate targets because they wanted to honour those of all faiths.”
A minute’s silence was held exactly 25 years after the explosion on November 8 1987. Relatives laid wreaths at the war memorial.
Mr Gault turned 18 a few days before the bombing. He had been standing beside his father, Sammy Gault, a retired Royal Ulster Constabulary officer who survived an IRA gun attack 26 years previously. His father was killed instantly.
He climbed the steps today using a stick for his injuries to lay a red wreath.
“It was one of the darkest days of the Troubles, we have to remember that,” he said.
“I want people to remember the agony and torment the families have been through, the injured as well, we cannot go back to those bad old days, we have to move forward.”
Eleven people died in the blast after a wall collapsed beside the Cenotaph. Another 63 people were injured when the no-warning bomb ripped through the town.
A 12th victim, school principal Ronnie Hill, spent 13 years in a coma and died in 2000.
The names of the dead were added to the memorial for war casualties from the Enniskillen-based Inniskilling fusiliers and dragoons, who fought in both world wars.
No-one has been convicted in connection with the Poppy Day explosion.
A new file on the bombing is to be handed to police.
The report from the Historical Enquiries Team will be examined by senior detectives to determine whether any fresh criminal proceedings can be taken against the perpetrators.
Stormont First Minister Peter Robinson laid a wreath and had a message for republicans.
“They are keen to have reconciliation in Northern Ireland, they want people to have the truth yet they remain silent about what happened on this occasion,” he said.
“Let those who want to have the truth speak the truth. I would be very keen that there would be some justice given to the families after such a long period of suffering and torment.”
Pipers played as flag bearers for the British Legion and army regiments marched in wearing stiff uniforms.
Some grey haired veterans carried batons and barked orders.
Sam Foster, a former Ulster Unionist minister in the Northern Ireland Executive, gave a reading and 'Nearer My God to Thee' was sung.
Rev. David Cupples recalled the suffering of those affected and said there was support for those in sorrow.
“Lives were torn apart, there was also the experience of lives coming together in understanding and compassion,” he said.
The names of all the victims were read, their stories recounted.
The event was introduced by Austin Hunter.
He said the injured and bereaved had been forced to live with the effects of that “despicable” act every day.
“As the good people of Enniskillen…came together on that day to remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the struggle to maintain freedom and democracy throughout the world, the cold-hearted, clinical and brutal action of terrorists destroyed their lives forever,” he said.
A peace centre was opened in 2002 by former US president Bill Clinton on the spot of the bombing.
The Queen of England visited Enniskillen earlier this year and met victims.
Another service was held afterwards in the nearby Church of Ireland St Macartin’s Cathedral, whose bells had tolled twelve times marking each of the dead.
Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers attended and laid a wreath.