Remembrance: Enniskillen 1987…

There’s not much to add to this piece by Diana Rusk recalling the events in Enniskillen twenty years ago this week, except to note the names of those who died…

There were three married couples – Wesley Armstrong (62) and wife Bertha (55), Billy Mullan (74) and wife Agnes (73), Kit Johnston (71) and wife Jessie (62).

The others who died were Sammy Gault (49), Ted Armstrong (52), Johnny Megaw (67), Alberta Quinton (72) and the youngest victim, Marie Wilson (20).

A 12th person, Ronnie Hill, who slipped into a coma days after the explosion, never woke up and died almost 14 years later.


  • Francesco

    provos biggest failure!

  • Rapunsel

    I recall lying in bed @ 1 mile from the bomb site that Sunday morning ( with the usual student hangover) and hearing the bang and shortly after a neighbour of our family ( protestant living in predominantly catholic estate) coming into our house shouting with rage that the bastards had blown up the remembrance parade. I recall the shock but that was nothing to getting the bus back to Belfast later that day and overhearing someone a few years ahead of me at school stating how good it as that ” we had got so many of them this morning ) or words to that effect. Grim

    I believe the provos didn’t intend to kill civilians but didn’t care much either way and had they killed 12 soldiers or service people instead I would still regard it as an appalling crime and unnecessary

    An appalling crime in the litany of appalling crimes and surely the families deserve to eventually know who carried it out

  • Lest we forget

  • Skintown Lad

    that comment you overheard really was disgusting rapunsel. i can’t believe someone was prepared to say such a thing, let alone within earshot of other people. it makes me think that although many people talk of this being a great ‘watershed’ in the troubles, in reality there were many nationalists who had no remorse whatsoever and carried on supporting the IRA to carry out equaling unjustified crimes. then there are the people who soon forget the horrific nature of the IRA’s deeds and vote for a smiley Sinn Fein face a few years later.

  • Outsider

    Words fail me on this one.

  • Cromwell

    Lets not forget the bomb planted in Pettigo on the same day, the command wire ran through a field over the border, it thankfully didnt go off because if it had, it would’ve killed a lot of Boys & Girls Brigade members attending the remembrance service there.

    So much for the Provos military campaign.

    Lets also not forget the Provos weasel words when they claimed shortly afterwards that the Brtish Army had set the Enniskillen bomb off on purpose.

  • Nevin

    Cromwell, you and others might like to (re)read the Dail debate of November 10, 1987.

  • Outsider

    Cromwell, you and others might like to (re)read the Dail debate of November 10, 1987.


    All that talking in the wind and not one person was every convicted, not one.

  • Truth will out

    I hope the usual republican apologists for the sectarian murder of Protestants will for once have to dignity and respect to leave this without their standard revolting litany of qualification, excuses and whatabouttery.
    Many, many republicans felt that way about Enniskillen – they delighted in the slaughter of elderly Protestants and young nurses. They didn’t like the blowback in terms of PR but they inwardly loved the death toll, the background of the targets and the desecration of an act of remembrance. And as that poster points out, sometimes not inwardly.

  • I Wonder

    The more recent Quinn killing is the first in which SF urged people to provide information to the police. Such urging was utterly impossible, though is no less a moral imperative, in relation to Enniskillen.

    The strength of historical cultural antagonism to providing information leading to conviction means, in 2007, that Republicans can still completely justify the killing of men like Eamon Collins.

    How then can it be expected that anyone who knows about either Enniskillen or the Quinn killing will reveal what they know, lest they join the dead “touts” – many of whom, with supreme irony, were killed by the ultimate tout, Scappaticci.

  • Nevin

    Outsider, if I can coin a phrase, the Provisional Republican Movement, back in 1987, had a Scenario for Peace in one hand – and a bomb in the other. Fortunately, the Eksund didn’t get through.

  • Quaysider

    One detail of that day I recall was the swift condemnation from the government of the USSR.
    There was more international disgust over Enniskillen than the local media allowed us to know.

  • Ulster’s my homeland

    “For the first time in the Troubles, the IRA admitted it had made a mistake, planting the device in a building owned by the Catholic church to, they said, target security forces patrolling the parade.” IRISH NEWS

    Why was that building owned by the Catholic church not searched?

  • Token Dissent

    Reflecting on the sheer horror of this day never fails to make an impact. One’s first thought is to offer condolences to the families and friends of the victims who might be reading this. They must find Remembrance Sunday extremely difficult every year.

    Cromwell is right to point out that the intention that day was also to blow up a neighbouring Boys’ Brigade parade. Disregard for human life doesn’t even begin to describe the mentality of those responsible.

  • Cromwell

    Thanks for that Nevin, interesting stuff, also thanks in retrospect to Mr Dukes & Des O’Malley, but especially to Dick Spring who said;

    “The Provisional IRA are engaged in a fascist war of genocide against a large section of the population of Northern Ireland. Anyone who supports them or provides a haven of refuge for them is taking sides in that war just as surely as Hitler’s stormtroopers took part in the war of genocide against the Jews. Anyone who stays silent in the face of IRA atrocities is just as guilty as those who stayed silent about the Jews. No other analogy can be drawn. Romantic notions about the IRA, notions about them being freedom fighters, are as responsible for the killing and maiming of innocent people as anything else.”

    We can do without the invocation of Godwins Law for the above methinks.

    Its about time Sarkos best mate, new found “oily” friend of the west, Gadaffi, was held accountable for this, he seems to have been forgotten since the payoff for Lockerbie.

  • Outsider

    Why was that building owned by the Catholic church not searched?


    Can you imagine the backlash the soldiers would have been met with if they had requested to search this building.

    If a bomb had been found within the building the Catholic church would have claimed the army planted it to scaremonger.

    Besides how on earth would anyone comprehend that there was a bomb in a building owned by the Catholic church. However as much as it pains me to say there are those connected to this church who did know about it.

  • me

    One of many sad days…

  • Token Dissent

    Ulster’s my homeland – If I remember correctly the Provos took advantage of local sensitivities regarding the RUC/Army searching the property.

    This was just another aspect of an atrocity that was motivated by sectarianism, and which sought to increase sectarian division.

    Outsider – That is a very serious, and as far as I know unproven allegation

  • Outsider

    Outsider – That is a very serious, and as far as I know unproven allegation


    Nothing being proven about this attrocity nobody was ever convicted and its difficult not to believe that someone from the church did not know about it, I hope its not the case though.

  • Nevin

    McGuinness’ ‘War and Peace‘ strategy makes on mention of the Eksund or Black November.

  • joeCanuck

    “If a bomb had been found within the building the Catholic church would have claimed the army planted it to scaremonger.”

    This is not the first time you have made an outrageous accusation with absolutely no “facts” to support it.You seem to be the flip side of another person who recently took his leave of this blog.
    Please think before you post.

  • Outsider

    Joe Cannuck

    Don’t lecture me on this subject you are not from Fermanagh and do not know what the grassroots views are up here.

  • joeCanuck

    Oh my. Touched a raw nerve,I guess.
    Someone doesn’t like healthy criticism.
    I think many of your outrageous assertions say more about yourself than some of those whom you’re trying to demonise.

  • Nevin
  • fair_deal


    “Fortunately, the Eksund didn’t get through.”

    The earlier shipments did and it is possible the Garda and MI5 knew of the shipments and where they were being landed. See Sean O’Callaghan’s book.

  • Nevin

    Outsider, perhaps it’s worth pointing out that the various Churches and organisations like the Loyal Orders and the AOH are very widely embracing bodies. Sadly, they’ve been far too weak in confronting the demons within.

    In the spirit of the occasion perhaps you ought to reflect on your earlier comments.

  • Nevin

    Thanks, fd.

  • Ulster’s my Homeland

    “Besides how on earth would anyone comprehend that there was a bomb in a building owned by the Catholic church. However as much as it pains me to say there are those connected to this church who did know about it.”

    Outsider, it annoys me that the Army and RUC never searched this building. I find that their total neglect in this building is shameful, do you think likewise?

    “”Ulster’s my homeland – If I remember correctly the Provos took advantage of local sensitivities regarding the RUC/Army searching the property.”

    Token Dissent, what do you mean local sensitives regarding the property? Was the police refused access to search it or what?

  • Skintown Lad

    the night before the bombing there was a group of men playing cards in the reading rooms (the catholic building referred to). Some of them heard noises from the stairs but didn’t think anything of it – as you wouldn’t, I might add, since church buildings like these were often left open for people to come in and out as they pleased. i don’t think you can infer from that that someone from the church in any meaningful capacity was involved in planting the bomb

  • Ulster’s my homeland

    Skintown Lad, I wasn’t referring that someone from the church was involved in planting the bomb, I an interested in knowing why the police and army didn’t search the premises. Token Dissent stated there were ‘local sensitives regarding the property’, I would like to know what these local sensitives were?

  • I Wonder

    “i don’t think you can infer from that that someone from the church in any meaningful capacity was involved in planting the bomb ”

    Actually, I think you’ve given certain people exactly the information they didn’t have previously to believe just that…

  • Rapunsel

    I knew the reading rooms well having attended lots of events there over the years , it was a terribly decrepid old building and very poorly maintained. I am unaware of any sensitivities about the ruc/army searching the building and haven’t seen much evidence that was the case and can anyone point to proof that the building was not searched?

    Regretably many posters on this thread have retreated anti catholic sectarianism

  • Skintown Lad

    i wonder, i don’t see how. my point is that the building was probably just left open so anyone could come in and out, whether they had any connection with the church or not. pretty obvious point even if the building was locked, since the bombers could easily have broken in.

    Ulster’s my homeland – i wasn’t responding to your post

  • Ulster’s my homeland

    This is what David Hearst from the Guardian reports, Monday November 9, 1987.

    Sir John also admitted that while the route of yesterday’s planned march through Enniskillen, a grey army town on the western borders of Northern Ireland, had been searched before for the parade, the building in which the bomb was planted – a former Catholic school, now a community centre – had not been searched because it was thought it was a “secure area”.

    How could you think such a thing Sir John?

    Sir John said: “The location of the building has been known for many years as a place of congregation for pedestrians and relatives, and never at any time had it been used by members of the security forces.”

    This contradicts what the IRA claimed in the Irish News link when they said, “had made a mistake, planting the device in a building owned by the Catholic church to, they said, target security forces patrolling the parade.

  • truth will out

    This is all froth – the fact is that (which is likely given the ultra gaelic/catholic edge to the Provos in the area) if some or indeed all of the bomb team told a priest in confession what they had done, he would have told them they were forgiven and not informed the police.
    Which says it all.

  • Ulster’s my homeland

    Does anyone know if this building was searched in the years leading up to the bombing?

  • Nine County Ulster

    Whats the difference who owned it. Anyone can break into any building.

  • CincinnatiDave

    Just reading this has brought so much of that awful time back to mind. Many young folks don’t fully understand just how bad some of those days were. Two Ulster generations were poisoned in mind & soul. Many lost their lives & many families were broken in body & spirit.

    I had just turned 20 & having grown up in the minority community in the NW knew my place: Keep your head down & get on with life. I had seen my neighbours get killed & had at least half dozen school friends get their dads murdered by the IRA. I remember plain-clothes police sit at the back of church just in case the provos would show up. Enniskillen just added to it all. How low would the enemy go? Nothing was safe.

    My dad had done some work for the Wilson’s the week before. He had enjoyed a cuppa with Marie & Gordon & I remember how devastated he was after it happened. For me seeing the injured at Altnagelvin hospital & the suffering that they went through & thinking over all the others on both sides of the community who lived the rest of their days with these injuries was what affected me the greatest. The young guy with his facial bones held together with wire is the image in my memory.
    (found a story on it

    All of NI suffered during the troubles. I only share a little of how I saw things or how it affected me. No community, district or family had a monopoly on suffering. Violence & suffering only begat more of the same. Gordon Wilson’s message of forgiveness in the midst of tragedy was as clear a sound as I have ever heard. My hatred (& I had lots of it in the 1980’s) was a poison that took years to walk away from. For my parents generation I think many will take the poison with them to the grave. My generation has a chance & the youth of today need to be educated together & grow up together & encouraged to walk to a different beat then their respective tribes.
    Reading some of the other threads you wonder just how far have we really come? Is your identity wrapped up in “who you are not” instead of who you are…


  • Ulster’s my homeland

    Exactly nine county ulster. It’s not about who owned it, it’s about why Sir John deemed it “a secure area”

    It’s also about finding out what these ‘local sensitives regarding the property’ are.

  • Nine County Ulster

    Don’t know who this John fella is but “local sensitives” sounds a bit silly. If they went in and searched it without wrecking the place I don’t see what the problem would have been.

  • nineteensixtyseven

    That bombing was a disgrace. An ‘armed struggle’ against pensioners and married couples.

  • Skintown Lad

    Dave, your thoughts on Gordon Wilson’s words being “as clear a sound as I have ever heard” brought a very unexpected surge of emotion just there. So true.

  • Token Dissent

    Thank you Dave. That was an outstanding, moving and well judged post.

    I regret engaging in the speculation around the security of the building. It has advanced to some levelling blame at those who used the hall, which is totally out of order.

    Nasty, ignorant comments about Catholicism do nothing but pollute what should be a solemn topic.

  • Skintown Lad

    I was at Sunday School that day. Mr Armstrong usually took the class but that day he went to the ceremony at the cenotaph so Mr Bolton took the class instead. After the class I stood on the street waiting to be picked up and noticed Mrs McFarland on the other side of the road. She didn’t seem to know where to go. She kept turning around like she’d forgotten why she was there and her face was all pulled in, tight. Another woman from the church walked past and Mrs McFarland just said “there’s been a bomb at the cenotaph”. Her face stayed the same, contracted. I looked at her, wondering what happened when bombs went off. I was always hearing about bombs. But I will never forget that face. After church I went home and played on the kitchen floor while Mummy was making the dinner. I said “there was a bomb today at the remembrance”. Mummy immediately stopped chopping the onions. I looked up at her. She made the same face that Mrs McFarland had. Then she hurried to the phone, saying ‘Daddy is on the parade today’. Daddy was in the UDR. The UDR tried to stop the men who made the bombs go off. I told Mummy with a little laugh that he would be angry cos he didn’t catch them in time. Mummy called the barracks and then she didn’t look at me for a long time. Eventually the phone went again and she spoke quietly to the person on the other side. “Daddy’s ok” she said, and then she cried. I looked at her, trying to reconcile her words with the crying. That’s good isn’t it?

    Later that night Daddy came home. There was a picture of Mr Armstrong, my Sunday School teacher, on the news. The man said he was a victim.

  • ulsterfan

    Let us not forget.

    We shall tell our children and grandchildren as long as we are alive and this atrocity will live long in our memories and be handed down from generation to succeeding generations.

  • PeaceandJustice

    Normally we have Republican posters on here calling for justice for victims. They are a bit silent at the moment regarding Enniskillen. Although Sinn Fein/IRA lost some political support in Fermanagh after the bombing, their vote returned. Roman Catholics continue to vote for the group which murdered their Protestant neighbours.

    As regards the post relating to the Roman Catholic church, would it surprise people if some of their priests were involved? There are a number of Roman Catholic priests whose media statements are very Sinn Fein IRA friendly.

  • PeaceandJustice

    We will remember them … as Margaret Thatcher said: “It’s really desecrating the dead and a blot on mankind”.

    Men, women and children murdered and injured by Sinn Fein IRA.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    A black day. A vicious atrocity. An act of pure hatred and ethnically-driven callousness, whatever spin one wants to put on it. In forty years of madness, this was one of the great landmarks of insanity and inhumanity.

    Many thanks to CincinnatiDave for a profoundly moving post. And thanks also for invoking the memory of the great Gordon Wilson. A truly inspiring figure in bleak times.

    To Ulsterfan, I would say that while it’s easy to utter a phrase like “let us not forget”, I also think it’s important that we do not, either intentionally or unintentionally, hand down to future generations the kind of hatred and bitterness that found its expression in events like Enniskillen and others. Do you really want your children to grow up with the same anger in their hearts about Enniskillen as those who lived through it?

    As for P&J, your attitude sadly demonstrates how the kind of sectarian hatred that fuelled our forty years of madness is still with us, and pitiably, ensures that we are not yet secure from future atrocities like the one of twenty years ago. Your post was utterly hateful. One of the most shameful expressions of opinion I have ever heard – and by God, that’s saying something.

  • Sam Hanna

    Some good points in Dail debate – sad that FF clearly refused to engage in unambiguous condemnation and to deal with problem (should fit well with teh SDLP’s modus operandi)

    Particularly like this point by Tomás Mac Giolla:

    Nowhere has this tactic been more obvious than in County Fermanagh where a great number of Protestants have been murdered by the Provisionals. Some might have had connections with the security forces as many of the Loyalists [204] in the area would. The Provos have constantly extended their targets to members and former members of the UDR. In that regard Ken Maginnis, a Unionist politician, who has worked night and day to promote open liberal policies at reconciliation in his own community would be a legitimate target because he was a former member of the UDR. Former members of the RUC or the RUC Reserve who have left the force for over 12 years are still legitimate targets. However, that was not sufficient, they were not getting enough Protestants killed so they extended their campaign to any company that took contracts from the security forces and followed that up by including any person who worked for a company who had a contract with the security forces. They extended their target to cover all Protestants in Northern Ireland as “legitimate targets”. In many cases in County Fermanagh those singled out for murder have been the only sons of Protestant farmers living in isolated farms along the Border. There can be little doubt that their strategy was to force whole sections of the Protestant community out of the area.

    The Loyalists of County Fermanagh have shown great tolerance and forbearance in the face of appalling provocation. There have been little or no attacks on Catholics by Loyalist paramilitaries in the area since the early seventies. I appeal to them, and I am sure they will adhere to this, not to play into the hands of the Provos by way of retaliation for Sunday’s attack.

  • ulsterfan

    Billy I do indeed want my children to remember the evil act carried out that day.
    We can remember without retaining hatred but these people slaughtered for the sake of some political ideology shall not be cast aside as if they did not matter.
    They deserve to have a fitting memorial so that the whole world may know what took place that awful day.

  • I wonder…

    I for one welcome the fact and “PeaceandJustice” (sic) and other hatemongers post what they do, because it does remind us, as Billy P. pointed out, that those who hate, encourage hatred and indeed, cannot remember without hating, still exist.

    The rest of us, who came through what they came through (possibly more)need to be vigilant to the influence of their hatred – we can remember – and not hate.

    I think it was our current First Minister (of whom I am no fan), who said it was those who suffered least during the Troubles that resented so much his entering powersharing and who found the current (imperfect) peace so intolerable.

  • dewi

    Some posts so moving. A truly terrible day. Hope tomorrow’s service can provide some solace.

  • joeCanuck

    Is it true that there is no memorial to these people who were murdered?

  • The Dubliner

    The “the Dail debate of November 10, 1987” is a great link, Nevin.

    In the debate in that link, the leader of the Worker’s Pary, Tomás Mac Giolla, has showed devastating insight into the tactics of the Provisional IRA and why they chose Enniskillen, fully intending to murder all and sundry in attendance at that ceremony:

    “Since they were established 17 years ago their aim has been to have a full scale sectarian civil war in the north. Sunday’s appalling carnage bore this out. There should be no doubt whatever now as to the objectives of the Provisionals. The bomb attack in Enniskillen was designed not just to inflict the greatest possible number of casualties among innocent civilians but to promote the greatest possible outrage among the Protestant population. It was designed to kill Protestants and to enrage the general Protestant population.

    It would be hard to think of a more provocative outrage than an attack on people who were engaged in what was primarily a religious service to commemorate their dead, in this case the dead of two world wars. Those who planted the bomb must have been aware that it would not just cause devastation and death but would create pressure among the Loyalists paramilitaries for retaliation. That is the hope of those who perpetrated that deed.

    As I said last week, the Provisionals have always relied for their influence among Catholics on creating an atmosphere where they can masquerade as the defenders of the Catholic community. They are hoping, therefore, for attacks and retaliation by Protestant paramilitaries so that they can be seen to defend the Catholic community. Time after time they have gone out and engaged in vile sectarian murders knowing that they would provoke a reaction from the paramilitaries leading to more fear and more terror in Catholic areas and leading people to believe that they needed the Provos to protect them.

    If anyone is in any doubt that the Provos’ aim is civil war, and that their attack on Sunday was quite consistent with that objective, I would refer them to an interview with a representative of the Provisional IRA in Hot Press magazine in December 1986. The interview, for some reason, received little notice in the general press or media at the time nor has it been quoted since. I believe it is one of the most revealing ever given about the aims and objectives of the Provisionals. During that interview the representative of the Provisional IRA said he considered all people who collaborate with the British forces to be legitimate targets. In response to the interviewer asking: “Are you saying that it would be better to have an all-out civil war?”, the spokesman said, “yes”. It was quite clear from these sentiments that the warped Provisional mind would see those who had turned out to commemorate the dead of two world wars as collaborators, and therefore legitimate targets.”

  • Alex S

    At the time I was a prison officer at the Maze, a day or so after the bombing I was watching the local news through the grille at a dining room containing republicians, the coverage about the bombing came on, one of them said something glib, I couldn’t hear what it was, anyway the rest of the prisoners glared at him and walked out of the dining room and went to their cells, clearly they knew it was a huge blunder

  • missfitz

    I stand to be corrected on this, but my belief is that the War Memorial was re-created after the explosion. I think there is a photo of it on my Flickr site, where there were doves added to the new monument in memory of those who died.

    Can I add my expression of sympathy to those that have gone before me here, and add that this was one more senseless and needless atrocity, and one that will only heap shame on the history of this land

  • missfitz

    There’s a link to a photo of the Memorial I took during the summer

  • joeCanuck

    Thanks missfitz.

  • PeaceandJustice

    Billy Pilgrim (or is it Brian Feeney)- “As for P&J, your attitude sadly demonstrates how the kind of sectarian hatred that fuelled our forty years of madness is still with us”

    My post said that Republican posters on here are normally calling for justice – but not in the case of Enniskillen – FACT

    Although Sinn Fein IRA lost some political support in Fermanagh after the bombing, their vote returned – FACT

    There are a number of Roman Catholic priests whose media statements throughout the ‘Troubles’ have been Sinn Fein IRA friendly despite SF IRA murders – FACT

    Republicans on here are always talking about justice, a truth process etc. Yet they ask Unionists to move on, not stay in the past etc. I’ll watch out for future posts by ‘I wonder…’ and ‘Billy Pilgrim’ – I trust they are not “hatemongers” blaming the police for everything, asking for justice, a truth process, staying in the past.

    Despite a campaign of murder, torture and ethnic cleansing, the Unionist people of Fermanagh didn’t retaliate. And their Christian forgiveness after the Sinn Fein IRA attack in 1987 is to be admired by everyone.

  • Rapunsel

    That’s right Miss Fitz.

    I seem to remember that one of the doves was sawn off by someone a good while ago and later returned. Am I imagining this? The ridiculously named Clinton Centre and Higher Bridges Project in Belmore and East Bridge Street was also designed by Richard Pierce and as far as I know intended to frame the memorial and act as a living monument in the context of the Higher Bridges building once having been an Orange hall and the Clinton Centre on the site of the Reading Rooms destroyed in the bomb. I’m not sure either building has served this purpose but having something productive and useful there is better than what was there previously.

  • missfitz

    Rapunsel, if you go to that Flickr site, I also have a photo of the Clinton centre…. the ‘O’ is hanging precariously, and needless to say I thought that was a good metaphor for the whole set up. It is a dark and unfortunate building and its only saving grace is that it is meant to be energy efficient.

  • Billy Pilgrim


    It’s interesting that you didn’t actually disagree with what I said – you simply threatened to carry out some sort of stakeout on me, in the hope that soon enough I’ll say something that, in your warped perception, will equate to your hateful remarks.

    (For example that if I, say, was to criticise the RUC, it’d be equivalent to your saying: “would it surprise people if some of their priests were involved?”)

    As I say, interesting that you didn’t disagree with what I said – simply vowed to find a pretext for arguing that I’m every bit as hate-warped as you are.

  • Billy Pilgrim


    “Billy I do indeed want my children to remember the evil act carried out that day.”

    I suppose the nub of the issue is, exactly why do you want them to remember? What’s the motivation?

    For example, I notice that you didn’t say you want those who died to be remembered – you want the “evil act” to be remembered.

    So I go back to the question: why must we ensure our children never forget that “evil act”? Is this about nursing a grievance, indeed passing that grievance down through generations? Because if that’s what it’s about, it seems like we’d certainly be teaching our children to fear – and where there’s fear, there’s usually loathing.

    You say: “We can remember without retaining hatred,” and indeed we can, it is possible, but how can you make sure you strike that balance? Do you think it’s important to strike that balance, or do you not mind if they hate, as long as they remember?

    What would you rather: that your children remember and hate, or that they forget?

    Not trying to put you on the spot here Ulsterfan. I just think these are important questions for all of us as we try to deal with the legacy of the 40 years of madness from which we are emerging.

  • missfitz

    Its interesting that the article says that it is unlikely that there will be any commemoration of the Enniskillen atrocity after this year.

    I think that is unlikely for many reasons. While it is correct that many of those immediately affected will no longer be with us, it is also true that unless we remember these evil acts, it is always possible that they will be repeated.

    I think that we remember both the act as well as commemorate the dead. Remembering is a moral act, and increasingly one that takes courage

  • ulsterfan

    I don’t understand why you question what I post when there is no ambiguity on my part.
    If we don’t remember what is the alternative?—-to forget.
    My motive is to recall the evil act which was carried out so that this is never repeated.
    Of course there is no guarantee of this which makes it all the more important that we should work together to create a society which makes such acts impossible to commit.
    I hope I have no hatred for any man but I am entitled to despise or hate barbarism and atrocities when these take place. Would you have it any other way?
    I want my children to know the difference between right and wrong and to treat everyone with respect regardless of class, creed or race as we are all equal.
    I did mention that those who were killed and injured should have a fitting memorial.

  • Kevster

    This horrible incident is a stark reminder of how much change has taken place.

    People are capable of such things. I hope it never again seems appropriate to any one to ever do such a thing ever again.

  • Paul

    The pious contributions on here from Unionist contributers is truly sickening, a community that spawned the most sadistic and savage sectarian murderers, a community which pays homage to ‘Bomber’ Harris, one of the biggest mass murderers of civilians as somone to be venerated.

    In war things happen that are wrong, Enniskillen was one of this things. But of course since it was the IRA’s work (you know the organisation that is mentioned in the bible as the apotheosis of evil!) then of course for some of the contributors here that means the wrong-doing is elevated to a degree above all else.

    Join me in writing… The killing of any civilians in any conflict is wrong, whatever the circumstances. Prove your Christian standard.

  • Suilven

    Maybe not so much change in some quarters, Kevster:

    No doubt ‘oh yeah’ will be applying to join the perpetrators if his comments above are to be believed.

  • ulsterfan


    Strongly disagree
    Now join with me “The killing of anyone is wrong”.
    Source of Authority “the ten commandments”.

  • Paul

    Strongly disagree
    Now join with me “The killing of anyone is wrong”.
    Source of Authority “the ten commandments”.

    Posted by ulsterfan on Nov 08, 2007 @ 09:53 AM

    Ulsterfan, first of all I’m atheist and as such the Ten Commandments are no source of authority for me. That aside I do try to keep to a moral code which isn’t too far removed from some of the Commandments. Can you say with conviction, that the killing of IRA volunteers is wrong? Or will you like the rest of us offer some justification for SOME actions?

  • joeCanuck

    Oh yeah is a well known troll.
    Just ignore him. He hates that.

  • ulsterfan

    I have already answered your question by saying I believe all killing is wrong.
    Please dont shift the debate on to the level of a just war.
    Men (philosophers and clerics) have been arguing this for the past two hundred years and I don’t wish to get involved.
    No one person has the right to kill another person

  • Paul

    I have already answered your question by saying I believe all killing is wrong.
    Please dont shift the debate on to the level of a just war.
    Men (philosophers and clerics) have been arguing this for the past two hundred years and I don’t wish to get involved.
    No one person has the right to kill another person

    Ulsterfan, i stand corrected. You live on a higher moral plain than most.

  • Turgon

    The Enniskillen bombing is of course iconic. It must, however, be seen in the context of the overall campaign by the IRA. Before Enniskillen we had Kingsmills and Darkley, afterwards we had Teebane. That of course ignores many many others.

    I suspect that Enniskillen has a particular resonance as it was at a service and the international notority it generated.

    Of course it was a political failure for the Republican movement. I would be inclined to strongly agree that the purpose of the attack was to create a blacklash by Loyalists and produce an esclation in sectarian violence. Had loyalsis produced the desired effect the IRA would have suceeded. Of course by their own terms they also suceeded on a more minor level by killing Protestants. The Pettigo attack simply demonstrates that there was an attempt 20 years ago to produce an extremely serious esclation in sectarian violence. We must all be very grateful that their sucess was less limited.

    I do not fully accept Paisley’s position about those most opposed being those who lost least. This is a good debating point for a politician but is beneath him as a Christian leader. He knows full well that many who lost loved ones or were injured are very against the current dispensation. It is also reasonable to opppose the current dispensation as foolish and politically misguided without having suffered. The implication is that those opposed to the new arrangements would seek to go back to violence which is utterly specious and unfair. That is to begin to go down the road of to accepting the validity of the terrorist campaigns since one is implying that if the current arrangements were endeed the IRA would “have” to go back to violence.

    Billy Pilgrim,
    I think it is fair for people to remember not only the victims but also the prepatrators and their evil. To forget any of this would be wrong. In fairness to Billy Pilgrim, I have disagreed very sharply with him in the past but I do believe that he is genuninely opposed to violence. For him to come on here is not unreasonable. I was going to suggest that the cheerleaders, apologists, excusers and fellow travellers have stayed away (and I do not put Billy Pilgrim in those categories) but I see they may be appearing after all.

  • joeCanuck

    “Remembering is a moral act, and increasingly one that takes courage”.

    I really hope you are wrong, missfitz.
    It would depress me no end to think that anyone would be afraid to publicly “remember”

  • Turgon

    Remembering the past can be portrayed as perpetutating the hatred and conflict of the past. That this is not the case; and that remembering the past is necessary is a position which may be begining to be seen as somehow worng.

    Of course there is the danger that remembering the past may make people ask whether or not the present state of affairs is really that acceptable, just or even moral. That position could, however, reveal and hence undermine the Faustian pact which is our political arrangements and the house built on sand which has been the whole “peace process”. Hence, the need “move on” and forget the past and those who suffered and of course have the implicit condemnation of those who commerate; let alone the very explicit condemnation of those who reject the process and where it has brought us.

  • Billy Pilgrim


    Thankyou for your kind words. It’s nice to think that two people like you and I, who hold such strongly opposed political views, can vouch for one another’s bona fides.


    I’m sorry if my post came across as provocative, and perhaps it might seem like this is not the thread to have this debate, but I am very interested in the issue of HOW we remember what we have come through. I think it is very important that we DO remember our tragic recent history, the terrible things that people did to each other and the suffering that people endured. But I’m very concerned that we should do so in a way that does not pass on resentment and animosity to future generations.

    Question is, how do we strike that balance? I don’t know, but I do know that we can find that balance as long as people like you and I and people of goodwill are prepared to talk about it. Hard, I know, but it’s my opinion that the best memorial we can give to the people who died at Enniskillen, and all the others too, is to make sure these things never happen again.

    That means we decommission hatred (for Enniskillen surely was an act of hatred). And that requires us to take the long view, in terms of how we remember.

    “…which makes it all the more important that we should work together to create a society which makes such acts impossible to commit.”

    I totally agree with this. The question, of course, is how we create such a society. We’ll be having that debate for years to come.

    “I hope I have no hatred for any man but I am entitled to despise or hate barbarism and atrocities when these take place. Would you have it any other way?”

    Of course I can understand how you feel. I feel the same way about Enniskillen and other atrocities. But yes, there IS another way. Gordon Wilson’s way. I often fall short, but for me, that man set the standard for us all. By God he was a heroic figure.

  • I Wonder

    I must say I had forgotten that there was a joint attack planned with Enniskillen. I suppose God (should She exist) couldn’t, after all, be in 2 places at the one time.

    Its blood curdling enough what happened, let alone what was planned to happenn.

    OAPs AND kids.

  • dewi

    Nice article on BBC about the service.

  • BogExile


    When god painted Ireland,
    He used watercolours
    Smudging the dun, sodden landscape
    With occasional sunshine
    This wringing wet romance
    Seeps down through quiet graveyards
    To feed the lonely streams
    Where soldiers drank
    Scanning the heather ridges riddled
    With possibilities of sudden death
    I looked down from there
    Through the shining, murderous hillocks
    Is that where all this water goes?
    Washing the clay clean to Enniskillen
    Its a pity spilled blood
    Can’t be got rid of as quickly

    In remembrance of those innocent victims of terrorism 20 years ago today.

  • Peter Brown

    I have just wtached the documentary about Enniskillen on the BBC and defy anyone to do so and not be moved by the events of 1987 and the reaction of those involved to them.

    Clearly this was a deliberate attempt to target the ultimate victims of the attack by local Provos who must have known who would be caught up in such an explosion but who ultimately did their cause more harm than any other event in the Troubles.

    At the time I was a teenager with little personal knowledge of Enniskillen or municipal services of remembrance but I can remember as a Christian finding Gordon Wilson’s statement that he bore those responsible no ill will awe inspiring.

    Twenty years later with a greater knowledge of Enniskillen and the significance to those who attend of such services of remembrance particularly in garrison towns like Enniskillen and with some knowledge of those who were injured and killed and their families and indeed in the case of Girdon Wilson as the father of a daughter who is the apple of my eye although not as old as Marie I find the actions of the bombers even more distasteful and the reaction of all those interviewed on tonights programme even more incredible than I did.

    There may be revisionists who will post here who will deny the aim of the bombers was to achieve what they did – the weight of the evidence is against them in the same way that such attacks were the exception rather than the rule but evidence of an undercurrent of naked sectarianism in the republican movement the only answered question being how deep it went and how fast it ran.

    I know that although other attacks were more deadly than Enniskillen few impacted on the wider unionist community more and but for the words of Gordon Wilson there would have been a more than equal and opposite reaction from so called loyalists and that he was therefore directly or indirectly responsible for saving numerous lives. I can’t watch that interview without the hairs on the back of my neck standing up and wondering could I have done the same – I still doubt it.

    I think at least though even if I had disgareed I would not have written to him and his family to tell them so!

    Twenty years is a long time to be orphaned or bereaved in any other way and others have been without one or more parents in NI for nearly double that on both sides over a quarrel whatever its rights and wrongs that was not and is not worth one life.

  • bertie

    This has been, in the main, a lovely thread!