Today is the 25th anniversary of the IRA massacre in Enniskillen, I was not a witness to the events or directly affected, but I have many friends who were and will leave it to a few of them to voice their reflections from that day. These are all comments posted on facebook last night or this morning, I have asked for permission to reproduce them here but have not included their identity.
“25 years ago today i helped a good neighbur out by giving him a lift to Enniskillen for the Remembrance Day Parade, where he was going to remember his comrades from the second world war – little did i know what i was going to get caught up in when i was setting off that morning! Standing outside O Dohertys Buthcers shop, opposite the Cenotaph, at apprx 10.45am the most unbelievable scene unfolded before my eyes.
Firstly a loud bang – i hit the ground – then silence for what seemed like an age – then debris, dust, timber all falling from the sky – what had happened? And then the noise – the screams, the shouting, the crying – it was a bomb! The first person i saw when i opened my eyes was the late Maggie Cox of the Salvation Army – a very well known local figure – i and another man carried her the length of Belmore St to the Horseshoe Bar. I then returned to the Cenotaph – my skin still crawls at the sights i witnesssed – those poor innocent people didnt stand a chance. I, along with many other people – and a special mention must go to the men and woman of 4UDR and Ballyreagh Band – did what we could to help the injured and those trapped – NEVER NEVER will i forget the sights, sounds and smells of that day.
No one has ever been charged with the murders of our friends and neighbours – but - never forget if the other IRA bomb in Tullyhommon had exploded we would have been having a double anniversary today – a complete generation of Protestants would have been wiped out – ethnic cleansing by any other name! As i go to Enniskillen to support the families of those murdered i urge you all to say a prayer that the enemies of our land are not permitted to ever impart such murder, mayhem and suffereing on our country ever again – LEST WE FORGET!”
” Tonight, 25 years ago I was on night shift…. I arrived home and went to bed at around 8.40 am on Sunday morning I was wakened by a phone call around lunch time and told to get to the Erne Hospital asap…. there I stayed at the bedside of a seriously injured friend and colleague, George, for many days …. he had half a brick embedded in his skull and other blast injuries, the Sister in charge told me when I arrived at the hospital.. “Don’t get too comfortable, we don’t expect him to last the night” I had only been in Fermanagh a few months but still I knew some of those killed and injured.
Over the following years I am proud to say that many more of those injured on that day I now call friends including Jim Nixon who features in this report, Jim is a fantastic Organ player and plays the Organ in our Church, a friend and brother in the Lord. I have seen the Phsycological scars on many of those caught up in the Bomb that day, still effecting them and their families 25 years later I’m glad to say, by the Grace of God, George did survive… we have been to many Glentoran matches together since!
Tomorrow we will gather around the Cenotaph to remember that day, whilst those that perpetrated it still walk free and those who supported and approved the attack sit in Government. I believe in a God who will deal with those people in his own time and with his own Judgement. But I end with this thought, Bill Clinton ex President of the USA came to Enniskillen and opened the “Clinton centre” on the site of the Bomb encouraging peace and reconciliation… 11 people out of a Population of around 11,000 died in the Poppy Day Bombing in Enniskillen…. we were told to forgive and find “common ground” 3,000 died out of a population of 8.25 Million in New York on 911… and America went to War and destroyed those responsible.. Think long and hard on that!! My respect goes out to the people of Fermanagh we can live together in mutual respect and one day those who tried to destroy this Community will face the consequences”
“8th November 1987 was an horrific day that will not be forgotten. I wasn’t in Enniskillen on that Sunday but it was my county town, where I attended school. As awful as it was, it could have been a whole lot worse. Many children, young people and adults were targeted by another bomb near the border that day too that didn’t explode. Nothing compares to the actual affects of the loss and injury suffered by those directly involved. But the effects of that day have touched so many more. It would take a lot more space than that available here to assess the impact of seeds sown towards the peace process in the years ahead.
But for me personally, I listened to the words expressed by Gordon Wilson in regard to the killers of his 20 year old daughter, ‘but I bear no ill will. I bear no grudge… I will pray for these men tonight and every night.’ I observed his courage and its impact in Northern Ireland and over the world. But I also listened to the criticism from others that such words shouldn’t be expressed towards such people. I found myself contrasting legalistic religion with the words of Christ (Matthew 6:12-15). I cannot place myself in the shoes of those who lost someone close to them.
Thorough legal and security responses were needed, and the heartbreaking search for justice goes on. But what I learned in the months and years after the bomb about the nature of God’s grace and the counter-cultural way in which it is to be lived out by his followers affected my understanding, and I hope my life since too. The courageous seeds sown then affected at least this random nearly-15-year-old, and I look back with humble gratitude about what I learned.”
25 years on some healing has occured but much hurt still remains, today as we remember we need to share the hurt with those affected, then maybe tomorrow we can try to share a little healing.
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