Belfast Telegraph

Two mental hospitals and a suicide bid and still Enniskillen bomb victim doesn't meet Troubles criteria

by Stephen Breen

A survivor of one of the worst atrocities of the Troubles told last night how he has been snubbed by a leading victims group.

A survivor of one of the worst atrocities of the Troubles told last night how he has been snubbed by a leading victims group.

Angry Joe Holbeach - who was caught up in the massive IRA explosion in Enniskillen in November, 1987 - hit out after he was denied a special grant from the Northern Ireland Memorial Fund.

The bomb victim was standing just 30ft away from the town's War Memorial, when the Provo bomb was detonated.

The charity was set up in 1999, after recommendations by Sir Kenneth Bloomfield, and provides a wide range of services to victims of the Troubles.

Mr Holbeach, from Lurgan, applied for the organisation's 'discretionary hardship fund', which allocates victims financial grants.

But the 54-year-old, who has suffered from depression, anxiety and alcoholism in the years after the massive blast, was refused the grant on the grounds that he did not meet the "required criteria".

Mr Holbeach, who received just £500 compensation from the NIO after the bombing, has now appealed the charity's decision.

Said Mr Holbeach: "I think the charity is basically saying that I was not traumatised enough, after witnessing such a horrific event.

"The bombing might have happened in 1987, but I still remember it as if it was yesterday.

"The terrible carnage which I witnessed that day will live with me forever."

And he added: "The charity mustn't think that I suffered from post-traumatic stress - even though I have been in two mental hospitals since the explosion, suffered from severe depression, anxiety and tried to take my own life.

"I only applied for the fund because I have been unable to get on with my life, since the bombing and I just thought, like many other victims, I was entitled to it.

"Every time I go to bed at night, I remember Enniskillen and the awful silence after the blast.

"My nightmares are still with me to this day, and I'm still struggling with horrors of Enniskillen almost 18 years on."

A spokesman for the charity confirmed that Mr Holbeach had appealed its decision.

Said the spokesman: "We are an independent charity, which helps people in practical ways with a range of various schemes.

"Each scheme has different criteria and, if a person meets those criteria, we will allocate them a grant.

"We have written to Mr Holbeach regarding his request for the hardship fund, and he has now appealed that decision."


From Belfast Telegraph