Belfast Telegraph

Taoiseach travels to Enniskillen and lays laurel wreath

By Cate McCurry

Enniskillen had an added poignancy in the Remembrance Sunday events as the Taoiseach Enda Kenny joined in the ceremony to remember those who died in the First World War as well as those killed in the notorious IRA poppy day bombing in the Co Fermanagh town.

It is the third time Mr Kenny has travelled to Co Fermanagh where he laid a laurel wreath on behalf of the Irish government.

The Fine Gael leader has become a regular presence in Enniskillen since 2012 when he became the first Irish premier to attend a Remembrance Sunday service in Northern Ireland.

Hundreds of people, including ex-servicemen and women, joined unionist MLAs Tom Elliott and Arlene Foster at the Enniskillen Cenotaph for the annual tribute to those who died in the First and Second World Wars and other conflicts around the world since.

The Cenotaph was the scene of devastation following the IRA bomb which killed 11 people in 1987.

A 12th victim died 13 years later, having never regained consciousness.

All but one of those who died were civilians.

The attack caused widespread outrage and condemnation, and feelings still run deep in the town.

The IRA later said it had made a mistake and that its target had been soldiers parading to the memorial. It claimed it disbanded the unit which carried out the bombing.

Mr Kenny said Enniskillen held a particular "poignancy" for him because of the IRA attack, and that he had always been warmly welcomed to the town.

He said: "I think it is the mark of a more united people that you have the laurel wreath in the middle of all the poppy wreaths here."

Asked if he would make the trip for the fourth year in succession next year, the Taoiseach said he would like to.

"If I have the privilege and opportunity of so doing," he said.

Mr Kenny also welcomed the Irish contribution to the ceremony in London.

"This is all part of the process of uniting the people both east and west and north and south," he added. "And that is very significant."

UUP MLA Tom Elliott, who was at the event, said: "It's good that the Irish government are now recognising the sacrifice that was made during the wars by people who were from their own jurisdiction.

"It is appreciated that he comes to this town where there was a significant event during the Troubles.

"There have been suggestions that the bomb may have come from the Republic's jurisdiction and that says a lot that he is coming to Enniskillen.

"I would now like to see him go further and offer any assistance he can into an investigation in to the bombing.

"Events like these show the times we are in.

"It may have taken them (the Irish government) 90 years to do so, but maybe that's how long it takes for reconciliation.

"It puts the Taoiseach in a difficult position, how can he stop coming now, but that's a decision for him and his staff.

"I have certainly raised the Enniskillen bombing with him and Charlie Flanagan (Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs) during the process of the talks and it will form part of any discussions we are having in dealing with the past in Stormont."

Those attending the Remembrance service at St Macartin's Cathedral in Enniskillen were also joined by Sir Jonathan Stephens, Permanent Secretary for the NIO.

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