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Remembrance Day Bombing

The aftermath of the bombing.
Location Enniskillen, Northern Ireland
Coordinates 54°20′39″N 7°38′3″W / 54.34417°N 7.63417°W / 54.34417; -7.63417Coordinates: 54°20′39″N 7°38′3″W / 54.34417°N 7.63417°W / 54.34417; -7.63417
Date 8 November 1987
10:43 (GMT)
Attack type Time bomb
Death(s) 12
Injured 63
Perpetrator Provisional Irish Republican Army

The Remembrance Day bombing (also known as the Enniskillen bombing or Poppy Day massacre[1][2]) took place on 8 November 1987 in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. Eleven people were killed when a Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) bomb exploded at the town's war memorial (cenotaph) during a Remembrance Sunday ceremony – this was held to honour those who died serving the British military. The bombing has been described by the BBC as a turning point in "The Troubles", and an attack that shook the IRA "to its core".[3][4]

Contents

Target

The IRA released a statement claiming that a "Crown Forces patrol"[5] had been the target. However, it has been alleged that the bomb was intended to kill Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) soldiers who were parading to the memorial,[6] with the civilian deaths deemed acceptable collateral.[4][6][7]

The bombing was thought by British and Irish authorities to have been planned and overseen by up to three units of the IRA from both sides of the border.[6] They believed that a bomb of such strength must have been sanctioned by IRA Northern Command.[4] The IRA and Sinn Féin deny this, with Sinn Féin's publicity director Danny Morrison describing himself as "shattered" on hearing that the IRA was involved at all.[4] It has been suggested that Martin McGuinness had prior knowledge of the attack.[7] It has been claimed that he and three other IRA members were stopped in County Donegal three days earlier, and that he went to Fermanagh just hours after the bombing to "question members of the local IRA unit to find out what had gone wrong".[8] McGuinness has denied these claims.[7] On the same day, a bomb four times larger was placed at a similar but smaller parade 20 miles (32 km) away at Tullyhommon.[8] That parade was conducted by members of the Boys' Brigade, Girls' Brigade and "three of four members of the security forces in uniform there to lay a wreath".[4] That bomb failed to explode.

The bomb was made in Ballinamore, County Leitrim and brought to the town over a 24 hour period by up to thirty IRA volunteers.[6] On 7 November it was placed against the gable wall inside the town's Reading Rooms, and set to explode at 10:43 am the next day.[4][9]

Casualties

The Cenotaph in 2009.

The explosion destroyed the wall –a vantage point favoured by some of the victims– blowing masonry towards the gathered crowd, many of whom were standing nearby.[4]

Ulster Unionist politicians Sammy Foster and Jim Dixon were among the crowd; the latter received extensive head injuries but recovered.[4]

Eleven people were killed – ten civilians and one Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officer. One of the dead, Marie Wilson, was the daughter of Gordon Wilson. Wilson went on to become a peace campaigner and member of the Seanad Éireann.[10] One further person, Ronnie Hill, died after spending 13 years in a coma. Sixty-three people were injured.[11] Local business man Raymond McCartney captured the immediate aftermath of the bombing on video camera while at the scene. His footage, showing the effects of the bombing, was broadcast on international television.[10] All the victims were Protestants.[6]

Reactions

The bombing led to an outcry among politicians in the Republic of Ireland and the UK. The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Tom King denounced the "outrage" in the House of Commons (the lower house of the British parliament),[9] as did the Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Brian Lenihan in Dáil Éireann (the lower house of the Oireachtas, the Irish parliament),[12] while in Seanad Éireann Senator Maurice Manning spoke of people's "total revulsion".[13] Irish rock band U2 performed an emotionally charged rendition of their song "Sunday Bloody Sunday" later that day in Colorado during their Joshua Tree Tour, where lead singer Bono openly and explicitly condemned the action, shouting "Fuck the revolution!....Where's the glory in bombing a Remembrance Day parade of old-aged pensioners, their medals taken out and polished up for the day? Where's the glory in that? To leave them dying...or crippled for life...or dead under the rubble of a revolution that the majority of the people in my country don't want" mid-song.[14]

Aftermath

The Clinton Centre, which was built in 2002 on the site of the bomb.

In the aftermath of the attack the IRA insisted that its leadership had not sanctioned the bombing,[10] and its Fermanagh Brigade was stood down.[10]

The bombing also had a negative impact on Sinn Féin's electoral support.[10] In 1989, in the first local elections held in Fermanagh after the bombing, Sinn Féin lost four of its eight council seats and was overtaken by the SDLP as the largest nationalist party.[10][15] It was not until 2001, fourteen years after the Enniskillen bomb, that Sinn Féin support returned to its 1985 level.[16]

The site of the bomb, which was owned by the Catholic Church,[6] was rebuilt as a Youth Hostel in 2002. The hostel was opened by and named after former US President Bill Clinton.[17]

In 1997 Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams apologised for the bombing on behalf of the republican movement.[18]

See also

References

  1. ^ Mary Harney (2001). "Dail Remarks by Mary Harney, T.D., Tánaiste and Leader of the Progressive Democrats in Response to the Recent Terrorist Attacks on the United States". DETE press release. http://www.entemp.ie/press/2001/180901.htm. Retrieved 2008-05-07.  
  2. ^ Henry McDonald. "Gadaffi sued by 160 victims of IRA". Guardian Unlimited. http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2006/apr/23/uk.northernireland. Retrieved 2008-05-07.  
  3. ^ http://www.bbcactive.com/BroadcastLearning/MediaSupportFiles/Age%20of%20Terror%20synopses.pdf
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h "Age of Terror" (Television Documentary). BBC. 2008-03-25. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/age_of_terror/7306395.stm. Retrieved 2008-05-07.  
  5. ^ Howell raines (15 November 1987). "Terrorism; With Latest Bomb, I.R.A. Injures Its Own Cause". New York Times. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9B0DE4D9163FF936A25752C1A961948260&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=all. Retrieved 2008-05-07.  
  6. ^ a b c d e f Suzanne Breen (28 October 2007). "Attempt to airbrush Enniskillen from history". Sunday Tribune. Nuzhound. http://www.nuzhound.com/articles/Sunday_Tribune/arts2007/oct28_Enniskillen_airbrush__SBreen.php. Retrieved 2008-05-07.  
  7. ^ a b c Olinka Koster (22 April 2008). "Martin McGuinness 'knew of IRA's plan to bomb Enniskillen'". Mail on Sunday. http://www.mailonsunday.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=561187&in_page_id=1770. Retrieved 2008-05-07.  
  8. ^ a b "Who knew about Enniskillen plans?". BBC. 21 April 2008. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7356159.stm. Retrieved 2008-07-16.  
  9. ^ a b House of Commons Official Report 9 November 1987 Column 19
  10. ^ a b c d e f Newshound: Daily Northern Ireland news catalog - Irish News article
  11. ^ "IRA bomb victim buried". BBC. 30 December 2000. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/1093598.stm. Retrieved 2008-07-16.  
  12. ^ [1]
  13. ^ Seanad Éireann - Seanad Éireann - Volume 117 Column 1346 - 11 November 1987
  14. ^ Rattle and Hum
  15. ^ ARK elections
  16. ^ ARK
  17. ^ "Clinton 'optimistic' about peace in NI". BBC. 27 May 2001. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/1354320.stm. Retrieved 2008-07-16.  
  18. ^ "Adams apologises for Enniskillen bombing". BBC. 8 November 1997. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/25480.stm. Retrieved 2008-07-16.  

External links


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