13 November 2022

Taoiseach and NI Secretary lay wreaths at Remembrance ceremony in Enniskillen

13 November 2022

Irish premier Micheal Martin and Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris laid wreaths at a Remembrance Sunday ceremony in Enniskillen, 35 years on from an IRA bomb at the event.

Hundreds gathered in the Co Fermanagh town to mark the occasion at the war memorial.

They stood in silence for two minutes before wreaths were laid.

Mr Martin continued a recent tradition begun by former taoiseach Enda Kenny in 2012 by attending and placing a laurel wreath at the base of the memorial.

This was after Mr Heaton-Harris had laid a poppy wreath on behalf of the UK Government.

Jayne Brady, head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service, was among others who laid wreaths during the commemoration.

Earlier this week, events took place in Enniskillen to mark the exact day of the Poppy Day bomb, including a service at a newly installed plaque to the victims.

Eleven people who had gathered to pay their respects to the war dead were killed and dozens more were injured in the no-warning blast on November 8 1987, just minutes before Remembrance Sunday 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.

This 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.

Other remembrance services took place across Northern Ireland on Sunday morning.

In Belfast, Lord Caine represented the UK Government at the cenotaph at City Hall, with Irish cabinet minister Heather Humphreys also in attendance.

Deputy Lord Mayor Michelle Kelly laid a wreath on behalf of Belfast City Council.

Hundreds gathered both inside and outside the grounds of City Hall to observe the ceremony.

In the Republic of Ireland, President Michael D Higgins and Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald were among those who attended a Remembrance Sunday service in St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin.

After the event in Co Fermanagh, Mr Martin said the attendance of Irish premiers in Enniskillen for the past 10 years reflected the spirit of the Good Friday Agreement.

“This is the 10th anniversary of the Irish government first coming here to be at this ceremony and its the 35th anniversary of the Enniskillen bombing, a terrible atrocity which resulted in a shocking and needless loss of life,” he said.

“And I’m always reminded when I come here of the families of those who lost their lives, the victims of that terrible bombing and the 60 people who were injured, and that brings home to me every time I’m here the absolute futility and immorality of acts like that.”

Of the 10-year tradition of Irish leaders laying wreaths in Enniskillen, Mr Martin added: “It reflects the spirit of the Good Friday Agreement, which is about mutual understanding, it’s about reconciliation, understanding the loss of different communities of life and the terrible violence that was perpetrated on people which could never be justified and can never be justified and also I think, in terms of our future, that we learn to understand better, different traditions, different backgrounds on this island.

“We seek mutual understanding between those two traditions and that really is the importance and the need to continue to meet, to continue to engage and I’ve always found that to be the most effective way to build true, sustainable peace, understanding and reconciliation on this island.”

Mr Heaton-Harris said he found attending the Remembrance event in Enniskillen “emotional”.

“Firstly, it’s Remembrance Sunday and it’s actually important just to remember those that are fallen, so we can actually walk around in a free society happily as we do,” he said.

“Secondly, in Enniskillen it’s the 35th anniversary of some really unbelievably tragic events and it was lovely actually down at the service, where the community has come together in such a big number.

“I’ve never been here for a Remembrance service before but obviously the last couple of years have been Covid-affected, so the numbers have not been as big, and I actually found it quite emotional to be quite frank to remember back to news that actually had a massive imprint on my younger life.”

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