Church rejects memorial plan for victims of IRA Poppy Day bombing

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The Catholic Church has rejected plans to build a memorial to victims of the IRA’s Poppy Day bombing in Northern Ireland on its land.

The sheer size and scale of the proposed construction poses “insurmountable” problems for access at the proposed site, a diocesan trust in Enniskillen in Co Fermanagh said.

A bomb exploded at the town’s war memorial in November 1987 and killed 11 people.

An alternative monument is due to be completed in a year, but victims said they had been left “distraught” by the church’s decision.

Steven Gault, whose father Samuel died, said: “Hurt does not scrape the surface of how we are feeling.”

He asked: “Why can’t we have a simple, innocent memorial to remember our loved ones murdered by terrorists 30 years ago?”

The republican device exploded during a Remembrance Sunday ceremony, which was being held to commemorate British military war dead.

Eleven people, many of them old-age pensioners, were killed and 63 were injured. A 12th victim, Ronnie Hill, died after spending 13 years in a coma.

A memorial service for the victims of the Enniskillen bombing (Phil Fitzpatrick/PA)

The Trust said: “The Trust is not in a position to sanction the siting of this memorial as proposed.

“We are happy that the re-developed Clinton Centre will include a memorial to the victims of the Enniskillen bombing and the Trust hopes that a suitable location for the Ely Centre memorial will be found.”

It said it was sensitive to legacy issues surrounding the bomb and had given careful consideration to key questions like public access, obligations to its tenants (the Fermanagh University Partnership Board), the ongoing upkeep, security and sustainability of the memorial and potential future public works in the area.

“These considerations have made it manifestly clear that the sheer size and scale of the proposed memorial pose insurmountable problems in terms of access at the proposed site.”

The University of Ulster, Dublin City University and the University of Massachusetts have recently announced plans for regeneration of the Clinton Centre, named after US President Bill Clinton and designed to promote peace building.

That work will integrate a memorial to the victims of the “horrific” attack, the Trust said.

“Not only does it not make sense to move to place a very large memorial in the proposed location, given the potential refurbishment of the entrance to the Clinton Centre, but we believe that visual and aesthetic considerations arising from the size and scale of the memorial mitigate against positioning it at this location.”

Mr Gault said he had not been consulted on the Trust’s decision but the church said it had not been given details before the memorial was commissioned, resulting in it being unsuited to the site.

Mr Gault’s wife Sharon tweeted: “As a Enniskillen parishioner I am ashamed of St Michael’s Trust.

“I can confirm that they did not correspond with us during the last seven months.”

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