NI Fire Service wrong to remove Enniskillen tribute

The News Letter has a report of the Ombudsman’s investigation into the removal of a plaque commemorating the victims of the Enniskillen war memorial bombing. The commemorative plaque, a photographic montage of the people murdered, was placed in Enniskillen fire station where it remained for 19 years until September 2007. Then after an anonymous telephone complaint the fire service removed the tribute apparently within an hour.

Arlene Foster asked the Equality Commission (via an FoI request) whether the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service had asked for their advice prior to the removal of the commemorative montage and it transpired that they had not. Subsequently the NIFRS was reported to the NI Ombudsman.

The ombudsman has now delivered a report critical of the NI Fire Service’s actions.

“At issue here is the credibility of the information which informed the Area Commander, to have the montage removed….and the nature of the response. I do not believe that an uncorroborated complaint alone from an anonymous caller was sufficient to warrant the literally immediate removal of a montage which had been on the wall for nineteen years at the instigation of the staff in recognition of an incident that clearly had a major impact on the staff who had been involved directly in dealing with the awful aftermath. There appears to have been no consideration given to the workforce as a whole in respect of this specific complaint. In this sensitive manner, I find such action to have been ill-considered and not appropriate to the circumstance.”

“I therefore find that the process which led to NIFRS’ decision to remove the montage to have been attended by maladministration.”

A statement from the NIFRS said:

“We accept the findings of the commissioner for complaints that maladministration was applied to our decision. We are sorry for any hurt or anxiety caused by our actions in reaching this decision.
We are pleased that the commissioner accepts that we did not act with any improper motive during our decision-making process. The NIFRS Board will now consider the report and give its recommendations on the content.”

  • al

    These things really piss me off. Does a small plaque matter all that much. It was a horrendous event and people will always remember it plaque or no plaque.

    Arlene Foster should get back to work and stop demanding apologies.

  • Alias

    One quango calls out for a neutral workplace, prompting the removal of the plaque, and another quango inquires into the removal of the plaque, prompting a reprimand to the fire officer who tried to comply with the other quango.

  • It was a horrendous event and showed the depths some people sink to. But surely, if the plaque is inside the fire station, the only question should be: ‘do the workers at the fire station want the plaque to remain.

  • slug

    Who would want the plaque removed?

  • HeinzGuderian

    One shakes ones head in utter dispair. :O(

  • Off topic, by a few thousand miles… I hope Slugger covers the lsraeli attack on the flotilla.

  • Granni Trixie

    This incident is all part of the process of working out consensus on rules for dealing with the past. Would have thought that this was likely to be one of the least contentious of memorials to the dead.

  • jim

    whats the local mp saying about this

  • joeCanuck

    Yep. Political correctness is utter nonsense at times. Has the plaque been restored?

  • Frankie12

    People remember… Commemorations don’t commemorate themselves… Static physical representations of memorials are often abused by elites in some form of nation building exercise… Hence the difficulty of having a commemorative monument to ruc men and pira men… Bottom line, commemorative artefacts aren’t really important…

  • Sharon

    This is about a picture of 10 pensioners and a student nurse, not a plaque as reported by Al and Alias. These innocent people were remembering the dead from the first and second world wars, which as many Catholics died as Protestants.
    Yes Al, to the community it does matter that this picture is reinstated on the walls of Enniskillen Fire Station. This was one of the worst bombings by the IRA during the troubles. This one incident affected the wider community, not just the protestant.
    Do you not think that Arlene Foster is doing her job by supporting people from her community?
    Why shouldn’t the NIFRS make an apology? They were found guilty and now they need to take responsibility for there actions and put the photograph back up where it belongs. Would you not agree that if a picture remembering those killed in 9/11 was removed from a fire station in New York there would be up roar, not only in USA but across the world? Although Enniskillen was not on the same scale as this, at the end of the day this was a terrorist bombing that killed 11 innocent victims.
    For the record the fire fighters do want the photograph put back up in the station. Remember it was the fire fighters themselves that bought this photo out of there own social fund money.
    Both Tommy Gallagher and Arlene Foster have been campaigning for the reinstating of this photo for the past 2 ½ years.

  • nufto

    the fire brigade is paid for by the taxpayer both catholic and protestant,pictures and plaques do not save lives,the guy doing all the whinging is not even in the fire brigade,it’s legislation not to have any political memorabilia protestant or catholic in any workplace it must remain neutral.
    these important reasons should be considered.