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Roman Catholic diocese rebuts rumours about planned Enniskillen memorial

17 November 2017


Laying a wreath: the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, at the war memorial in Enniskillen, on Sunday

Laying a wreath: the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, at the war memorial in Enniskillen, on Sunday

COMMENTS and rumours that a site for the new memorial to the victims of the IRA bombing at the Enniskillen cenotaph, on Remembrance Day 30 years ago, was being blocked by the Roman Catholic authorities in the town have been denied by the Administrator of Clogher, the RC diocese, Mgr Joseph McGuinness.

Twelve died and 68 were injured in the bombing.

The planned memorial, sponsored by the Ely Trust, bears the names of those who died as a result of the blast. The plan was for it to be in place for last Sunday’s Remembrance service on land adjacent to the original blast site; but the property is owned by the RC diocesan St Michael’s Trust. Mgr McGuinness explained that they had been informed of the request only on 26 September, which did not allow time for the trust to prepare for the works or to resolve the issues.

It was unveiled on the preceding Wednesday, and removed to storage pending the outcome of negotiations.

In a letter read at all masses in the diocese on Sunday, Mgr McGuinness explained that legal, leasehold, and health-and-safety matters had to be resolved with due diligence. He rejected the idea that there was opposition from the RC Church or any parishioners.

“Although 30 years have passed since that awful day, the legacy of the bombing is still felt in a real and painful way by individuals and the community. As well as shattering the lives of individuals and families, the bombing also had the potential to create permanent and bitter division within the community here in Enniskillen.

“That this has not happened is a testament to the generosity of spirit of people, and the efforts made by many individuals, community organisations, and churches to build relationships in a sensitive and respectful way,” he said.

“I want to state firmly that the diocesan trust has no objection whatsoever to a permanent memorial being erected to the victims of the Enniskillen bombing. The creation of a public memorial is both a way of providing solace and comfort to those who grieve, and also a way of drawing the community together in remembrance and solidarity.”

Mgr McGuinness said that the proposal that the new memorial be sited at the Clinton Centre, on land held by St Michael’s Trust, was first brought to their attention in September.

“The hope was expressed that the trust could come to a quick decision in time for the unveiling of the memorial on 8 November. The diocesan trust willingly agreed to give the proposal full and careful consideration, but made it very clear that the matter couldn’t be resolved in such a short space of time, given the issues which would have to be considered.”

The trust, he said, was in the process of giving due and careful consideration to accommodating the memorial.

He concluded: “None of us wish to add in any way to the pain of all who have suffered so dreadfully over the last 30 years. Their grief and hurt must be respected. Neither should we cease to continue the work of reconciliation and healing in our community in a way that draws people together in genuine and mutual respect. May the Lord be with us and may his Spirit sustain our efforts.”

On Sunday, the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, joined the Northern Ireland Minister, James Brokenshire, and the DUP leader, Arlene Foster, at the open-air memorial service at the cenotaph at Enniskillen.

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