Fresh file prepared in quest for justice over Poppy Day bombing

POLICE are set to examine a new file on one of the worst IRA atrocities to establish if any fresh crimimal investigation could be launched to help bring the perpetrators to justice.

The report from the Historical Enquiries Team (HET) on the Eniskillen bombing will be examined by serious crime branch detectives who will consider if there is evidence that could be taken further.

Eleven people were killed and 63 others were injured when the no-warning Poppy Day bomb ripped through the Co Fermanagh town on November 8, 1987.

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A twelfth victim, school principal Ronnie Hill, spent 13 years in a coma and died in 2000.

No one has ever been convicted in connection with the massacre which was deemed among the worst of the Troubles.

Thursday marks the 25th anniversary of the bombing and a special memorial service is being held for the survivors and relatives of those who were killed.

The Democratic Unionist Party’s Arlene Foster said yesterday: “The Enniskillen bomb was an act of horrific savagery. It was motivated by nothing other than a desire to kill and maim. It was indiscriminate. Young and old were injured. It was targeting innocent people.”

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Ms Foster added: “Twenty-five years after the explosion, someone somewhere knows something about the perpetrators. Someone knows where the bomb was made, how it was transported and who planned the attack. This wasn’t executed by one of two people. A team of people were involved.”

Ms Foster said a breakthrough in the investigation would provide hope for the families seeking justice.

She added: “As has been demonstrated with Gerry McGeough being convicted of the attempted murder of my colleague, councillor Sammy Brush, decades after the event, there is always time for justice.

“Anyone who can bring any information to the police should do so. Perhaps in 1987 they didn’t feel able but as they watch the victims and relatives on Thursday I hope they will be moved to help the police with the investigation.”

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In a statement the Police Service of Northern Ireland said: “The Historical Enquiries Team has concluded its work on the deaths which were caused at the Enniskillen Cenotaph bombing in 1987.

“Staff have updated the families on the HET work and will formally hand over to the PSNI’s serious crime branch who will assess the potential for further work to be progressed.”

Survivors are still waiting for justice, among them Daphne Stephenson who was unwittingly standing directly in front of the bomb when it went off.

Like many others, Mrs Stephenson had gone to the memorial with her husband to pay her respects, as they had done many times before.

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Just a few yards away stood Gordon Wilson, who lost his daughter Marie in the bombing but inspired the world with his words of forgiveness for her killers. School principal Mr Hill was just behind.

“I can still feel the rubble thumping on top of me,” she said. “I can honestly say I was seconds from death.”

Mrs Stephenson suffered multiple injuries but the physical harm for which she still receives treatment is just one part of its nightmare legacy, and she feels deep seated anger which, she said, will only subside if someone is held to account.

“Nobody was ever arrested, nobody was ever charged. There was no inquiry. Nothing.”

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Stephen Gault, who had turned 18 a few days before, had been standing between his father, Sammy Gault, a retired RUC officer who had survived an IRA gun attack 26 years earlier, and Ted Armstrong. Both were killed.

Medics said the teenager’s life was saved by a padded leather jacket he had bought the day before and begged his mother to let him wear.

He is a member of the new Northern Ireland Victims’ Forum and has committed his life to ensure victims’ voices are heard.

“My revenge will come through the courts and through justice, which is something we are still trying to achieve.”

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