Micheal Martin attends Remembrance Sunday event in Enniskillen

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Irish premier Micheal Martin has lain a wreath to mark Remembrance Day at a service in Enniskillen.

Micheal Martin continued a tradition begun by former Taoiseach Enda Kenny in 2012 by attending the commemorative event in the Co Fermanagh town.

Mr Martin laid a laurel wreath at the war memorial on a foggy Sunday morning before standing in silence to pay his respects.

He was joined by Northern Ireland Education Minister Michelle McIlveen.

Remembrance Sunday
Northern Ireland Education Minister, Michelle McIlveen, and Taoiseach Michael Martin during the Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph in Enniskillen (Niall Carson/PA)

Speaking afterward, Mr Martin said: “I’m very pleased to be here on Remembrance Sunday, in Enniskillen, in particular.

“I’m carrying on now a tradition that has gone on quite a number of years, in terms of the successive Taoisigh coming to this location.

“In terms of remembering those who died in past wars, and also what’s coming to mind is the terrible atrocity of 1987 in Enniskillen, when 12 people were killed and 60 injured.

“It calls to mind the futility of destruction and violence, and the impact that it had on this community and so many communities on the island.

“That speaks to the need for ongoing work, to reconcile, to work together, to bring together the different traditions on the island, to share the agenda for the future.”

Former Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster, a native of Enniskillen, attended the event in a private capacity.

Remembrance Sunday
Northern Ireland Minister of State Conor Burns lays a wreath during the Remembrance Sunday service (Niall Carson/PA)

She stood alongside relatives of those killed in the Poppy Day massacre of 1987, at the Clinton Centre, the location where the bomb that killed 12 people went off.

Conservative MP and Northern Ireland Minister of State, Conor Burns, was also in attendance.

Wreaths were laid by dignitaries from the British Army, the emergency services and representatives from US and Polish consuls.

Hundreds of people turned out to mark the occasion on Sunday, after numbers were restricted last year due to the pandemic.

They observed a solemn two minutes’ silence.

The event took place 34 years on from the IRA’s infamous “Poppy Day” bomb attack at the Enniskillen war memorial.

Eleven people who had gathered to pay respects to the war dead were killed and dozens more were injured in the no-warning blast in 1987 just minutes before the event was due to start. A 12th victim of the bombing died 13 years later having never woken from a coma.

Mr Kenny became the first Taoiseach to attend a Remembrance Day service in Northern Ireland when he took part in commemorations at Enniskillen in 2012.

Remembrance Sunday
Former DUP leader Arlene Foster attends the Remembrance Sunday service (Niall Carson/PA)

That move was symbolic of the greater recognition now afforded in the Republic of Ireland to those Irishmen who fought and died serving in the British Army in the First World War.

In a separate ceremony in Belfast, Lord Mayor Kate Nicholl laid a wreath at the cenotaph in the Garden of Remembrance at City Hall.

Northern Ireland First Minister Paul Givan was also in attendance.

It came as Buckingham Palace announced Queen Elizabeth was unable to attend the event in London, having sprained her back.

In a statement, the palace said it was with “great regret” the Queen would be unable to attend the service.

The statement said: “The Queen, having sprained her back, has decided this morning with great regret that she will not be able to attend today’s Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph. Her Majesty is disappointed that she will miss the service.

“As in previous years, a wreath will be laid on Her Majesty’s behalf by The Prince of Wales.”

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