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Foster pledges to help resolve IRA Enniskillen bomb memorial dispute


The memorial was removed just hours after being put in place last year

The memorial was removed just hours after being put in place last year

� Ronan McGrade Photography 078

The memorial was removed just hours after being put in place last year

DUP leader Arlene Foster says she will do all she can to help find a solution over the continued absence of a memorial to those killed in the Enniskillen Poppy Day memorial bomb.

It comes amid growing anger at the decision by the local Catholic diocese to reject the placing of a permanent tribute to the Remembrance Sunday attack on its land.

"This doesn't do anyone any good in the town of Enniskillen or indeed across Northern Ireland to see victims hurt in the way these families are hurting," Mrs Foster told the BBC.

"The church has said they are not against a memorial, so let's take that as a starting point."

Twelve people died and dozens more were injured in the IRA attack on November 8, 1987. Last year, on the 30th anniversary of the atrocity, a monument to the victims was removed hours after being placed at a location close to where the bomb went off.

The memorial had been placed on a site owned by St Michael's Diocesan Trust, which said at the time it had not been consulted by the council on the decision to erect the monument. Last week the church set out its reasons for rejecting where the memorial should be placed.

It said that while it was not opposed to a memorial, health and safety concerns meant it could not be placed on the preferred location outside the Clinton Centre.

Survivor Stephen Gault - who lost his father in the IRA attack - said the victims' families were "deeply hurt" by the decision of St Michael's Diocesan Trust.

"This is a tribute to our loved ones who were brutally murdered at the hands of terrorists 30 years ago," he said.

"To say we're upset is really an understatement."

He also said he found it hard to believe the church had been surprised at the dimensions of the memorial following its unveiling, as details of it had been included in the planning document. The Catholic Church hierarchy has been urged to step in.

Mrs Foster said the decision was "disappointing" and the manner in which it has occurred "painful".

"I share the sense of devastation which that day brought and I also share a vision for the future, in which the lives of 12 people can be remembered for the generations to come," she told the Belfast Telegraph.

"A publicly funded memorial should not be left behind closed doors in storage."

"I don't want to make this a political issue. It is an issue of making sure the right thing is done. It is a memorial which recognises the horrific death of local people and should be put in place and that is the wishes of the families."

"There are solutions if there is a genuine willingness," she added.

"The last thing we want is for this to continue to be a running sore in Enniskillen and I would argue it has affected those further beyond the Fermanagh community.

"My focus is on a solution rather than recrimination."

Belfast Telegraph