On this day in 1987, an IRA bomb attack claimed the lives of 12 people in one of the most notorious events of the Troubles.
In 2017, 30 years after their deaths caused by an IRA explosion, the 12 killed in the Enniskillen attack will be honored when a memorial is unveiled on Wednesday (Nov 8) at the bomb site.
A short religious service took at the unveiling in the Clinton Centre which is on the site of the Remembrance Day bombing on November 8, 1987. Wreaths were laid by relatives of the victims and by veterans.
There was a minute’s silence exactly 30 years after the explosion of the 40-pound bomb.
Former President Bill Clinton gave his name to the building when he opened it in 2002. It’s a home for peace-building projects.
Another religious service also followed in Enniskillen Presbyterian Church.
The functions preceded a larger commemoration on Sunday when Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire attended.
Eleven people died in the Remembrance Day bombing, also known as the Poppy Day massacre because of the poppies sympathizers wear in remembrance of those who died in wars. A 12th person, a school headmaster, died after lying in a coma for 13 years.
The youngest victim was 20-year-old nurse Marie Wilson who died in the rubble in the arms of her father, Gordon, a local draper. He recalled her last words: “Daddy, I love you very much.”
He became a peace campaigner during The Troubles, bringing a message from Protestants that they did not blame their Catholic neighbors for the bombing. When he attended a special Mass by Cardinal Tomas O Fiaich in the town’s St. Michael’s Catholic Church days after the bombing the 1,000-strong congregation stood to applaud him.
In a special article on Saturday in The Irish Times, Enniskillen journalist Denzil McDaniel recalled, “In the years that followed, Wilson’s words were credited with helping to maintain calm as Enniskillen became a byword for a dignified response of a community that held together in the face of evil.
“The impact seemed particularly strong in the Republic, where many were left shocked.”
McDaniel recalled the lord mayor of Dublin, Carmencita Hederman, traveling north to deliver books of condolence containing 45,000 signatures, and crying as she spoke to bereaved relatives in Erne Hospital.
In 2012, Queen Elizabeth visited the town. Following a meeting with the bereaved, she made the short but significant and symbolic walk from the Church of Ireland Cathedral across to St. Michael’s Roman Catholic Church. It was the first time ever that she had entered a Roman Catholic place of worship during her 60-year reign.
In 1997 Gerry Adams apologized for the Enniskillen bombing.
Last July, however, Stephen McCann, Sinn Fein chair of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, said he would not go down the road of condemning the bombing. SDLP, UUP and DUP councilors walked out of a subsequent meeting in protest at his comment.
McCann will not be at Wednesday’s commemoration. The council vice-chair, UUP’s Alex Baird, will greet VIPs.
Nobody was ever charged with the attack, although 10 suspects were questioned.
Here is a BBC documentary on the IRA attack: