Enniskillen Remembers Victims Of IRA Bomb

Vicki Hawthorne, Ireland Correspondent

The town of Enniskillen in County Fermanagh came to a standstill as residents marked the 25th anniversary of the IRA attack on Remembrance Sunday.

Twenty five years ago - on November 8, 1987 - an IRA bomb exploded as hundreds of people gathered at the town's war memorial on Remembrance Sunday.

Eleven people died in the blast after a wall collapsed beside the Cenotaph and 63 others were injured when the bomb ripped through the town without warning. A 12th victim, former headmaster Ronnie Hill, never regained consciousness after the attack and died in 2000.

Stephen Gault, whose father Samuel was killed in the bombing, laid a floral tribute to his retired police officer parent and appealed for no return to the violence.

"It was one of the darkest days of the Troubles, we have to remember that," he said. "I want people to remember the agony and torment the families have been through, the injured as well, we cannot go back to those bad old days, we have to move forward."

Earlier, he said how he still vividly remembered the day.

"I never heard the explosion, I remember getting a shove on the back and going forward into railings. I must have been knocked out for a matter of seconds because when I came round there was just an eerie, eerie silence.

"I couldn't hear anything, the only thing I could hear was a shop alarm in the distance ringing.

"A choking sensation with the dust. I couldn't breathe, I tried to move, I couldn't move. I was buried to my knees in rubble and I remember thinking 'where's my dad?'.

"And I looked across the ground and he was lying across the ground and I knew right away that he was dead."

Former town councillor Sam Foster was also there that day.

He said: "Suddenly I heard this roll, an enormous roll like thunder and then there was the explosion and everything fell down around us.

"Debris, glass, people screaming, people shouting, people shrieking, people squealing. It was a terrible situation to be in."

Jim Dixon suffered serious head injuries in the attack. He has endured more than 20 operations since. He said: "Pain is my constant companion.

"Bombs are evil things and the damage that they can do is horrendous."

The bombing shocked Northern Ireland and the world. It was also seen as a turning point in the history of the country which was so jaded by decades of terrorism.

No one has ever been convicted in connection with the IRA attack.

But a specialised group of detectives, the Historical Enquiries Team, has been reviewing such cases and a report on the bomb has been given to the Police Service of Northern Ireland to see if any new evidence can be followed up.