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Man who lost dad in Poppy Day bombing slams book of condolence for Martin McGuinness

By Rebecca Black

A man whose father died in the Enniskillen bombing has described the local council's decision to open a book of condolence for Martin McGuinness as "shameful".

Stephen Gault, whose father Samuel was among the victims of the 1987 attack, said the book, opened just half a mile from the scene of the explosion, was hurtful to surviving relatives.

There have long been rumours that Mr McGuinness was linked to the notorious bombing.

It was claimed two years ago that the former Historical Enquiries Team wanted to question him about the attack, but was prevented from doing so by the Northern Ireland Office.

At the time, Sinn Fein said Mr McGuinness rejected the claims, which were based on "unsubstantiated hearsay".

The former First Minister previously said he felt ashamed that attacks such as that in Enniskillen were carried out in the name of Irish republicanism.

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

A 12th victim, school principal Ronnie Hill, spent 13 years in a coma and died in 2000.

Mr Gault told the Belfast Telegraph he was shocked when he heard that a book of condolence had been opened to Mr McGuinness in Enniskillen.

"I just think it's a further insult to injury for the victims that such a thing would happen in Enniskillen," he said.

"I understand that they would want to open a book of condolence and I have no problem with that, but to have it in Enniskillen is an insult to the families.

"It is less than half a mile from where the bomb exploded.

"How would the people of Derry feel if a book of condolence was opened to the commander of the Parachute Regiment on Bloody Sunday? That's how I feel. It is jumping on the grave of my father by having the book in Enniskillen."

A spokeswoman for Fermanagh and Omagh District Council said: "The decision to open the book of condolence was agreed by group leaders as required by the relevant protocol."

"The council's protocol for a book of condolence is that it is opened at two sites within the council area, and this is generally the main administrative offices at The Grange, Omagh and the town hall, Enniskillen."

Elsewhere, three TUV councillors in the Causeway Coast and Glens area also criticised their council's decision to open a book of condolence.

Boyd Douglas, William Blair and Sharon McKillop claimed the move by local mayor Maura Hickey was "wrong".

"The decision of the SDLP mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens to open a book of condolence to self-confessed IRA commander McGuinness is an unnecessarily divisive act," they added.

"It is insulting to many victims of IRA violence who have had to listen to nauseating praise of someone whose terrorist organisation visited death and destruction upon many families.

"Quite apart from the suffering of those who lost loved ones and those who carry the physical scars to this day, there are many families where invisible physiological wounds cause anguish.

"In many cases, this is only known about by those who are closest to them.

"We do not recall the council opening a book of condolence to mark the passing of an IRA victim after years of suffering."

A spokesperson for the council said the mayor did not wish to comment.

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