Belfast Telegraph

Martin McGuinness dies: Enniskillen bomb victim's son will remember SF chief as terrorist

Victims of IRA bombing react to news of McGuinness death

The son of an IRA bombing victim, killed in one of the most notorious atrocities in Northern Ireland's troubled history, has said he cannot forgive Martin McGuinness for his terrorist past.

Stephen Gault saw his father Samuel, 49, killed by an IRA bomb in Enniskillen in November 1987. The then 18-year-old was also injured in the blast.

The IRA bomb exploded near the town's war memorial 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.

Speaking about the death of Mr McGuinness - who was once accused in a TV documentary of knowing in advance about the bombing - Mr Gault said he would always remember the former Stormont deputy First Minister as a terrorist, not a peacemaker.

"My feelings are with the Enniskillen families. Martin McGuinness has taken to the grave the truth and the answers that we need to be able to move forward. He knows who bombed Enniskillen. Initially my thoughts and prayers go out to the Enniskillen victims," said Mr Gault.

He added: "I will always remember Martin McGuinness as the terrorist he was. If he had been repentant my thoughts might have been slightly different. But he took to his grave proud that he served in the IRA. There was no remorse or repentance from him even up to his death."

Mr Gault said he feared that Mr McGuinness would only be remembered as a peacemaker.

"My fear is Martin McGuinness is going to be remembered as this great peacemaker similar to the way Nelson Mandela was remembered after his death. My fear is that his horrific past will not be mentioned.

"People might say I am unchristian that I have no sympathy for his family. But it wasn't Christian to send people out to murder innocent people.

"Did the McGuinness family feel any sympathy for the Gault family when my father was cruelly and brutally murdered at the age of 49 by an IRA bomb?

"I have heard all this talk about how Martin McGuinness was only 66. My father was only 49 when he was murdered. He wasn't even 50. He was a very young man."

Read more:

Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness dies aged 66 - Irish republican colossus who shaped history 

Arlene Foster leads tributes to Martin McGuinness - Sinn Fein leader 'pivotal' in bringing peace in Northern Ireland 

Martin McGuinness: I have decided to make way for a new leader 

From IRA commander to political reconciler - the changing faces of Martin McGuinness

Among the tributes to Martin McGuinness were more critical comments from victims who said they have been denied justice.

In the wake of the former IRA leader's death the sister of a woman killed by the paramilitary group tweeted a list of atrocities and other victims.

Ann Travers' sister Mary was gunned down and her judge father, Tom Travers, badly injured when they were ambushed by an IRA gang as they emerged from church in Belfast in April 1984.

Ann Travers has since campaigned for victims' rights.

She tweeted a picture of her sister and father, and wrote: "Enniskillen Families, Claudy families, Hegarty family, Gillespie family, Maher family, I'm so sorry you never got the answers you deserved."

Mr McGuinness spoke out six years ago after a Sinn Fein member involved in the murder of Mary Travers was appointed to an influential adviser role at Stormont.

He said the killing had been "absolutely wrong" but added the adviser, Mary McArdle, would not be sacked from the role.

Speaking at the time he said: "There is controversy now because Ann obviously feels very hurt and I respect the fact that she feels the way she feels but if we were to apply the rule that people who were part of the conflict can't be part of building a better future then Nelson Mandela would never have been president of South Africa."

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