Belfast Telegraph

Gerry Adams 'unable to condone' IRA bombing of Arlene Foster bus

the Bus Arlene foster was travelling on when an IRA bomb detonated
the Bus Arlene foster was travelling on when an IRA bomb detonated
gerry adams
Ernie Wilson
arlene foster

By Staff Reporter

Gerry Adams was "unable to condone" the 1988 IRA bombing of Arlene Foster's school bus, showing that Provo "mistakes" were hurting Sinn Fein, according to a previously classified official document.

The incident is referred to in an Irish Department of Foreign Affairs memo dating back more than 30 years.

It assessed that from May to July 1988, "critical attention is being focused on the recent series of 'mistakes' by the IRA - viz the school bus bomb in Lisnaskea, which left a 14-year-old girl seriously injured and the bombing of the Falls Road swimming baths, which killed two local residents".

It said that the Lisnaskea and Falls Road bombings were "the latest in a series of 'mistakes'... which appear to be causing increasing embarrassment to the political element within the republican movement".

Adams refused to condone the Lisnaskea bomb, showing that it had affected Sinn Fein, the memo notes.

Although not named in the memo, Mrs Foster was one of 17 teenagers on the bus in Lisnaskea when it was bombed.

The IRA intended to kill the driver - part-time UDR soldier Ernie Wilson - but seriously injured a 14-year-old girl and sent glass smashing down on the passengers. The attack caused outrage.

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Although the IRA had targeted Mr Wilson, Adams refused to condone the attack, which was condemned by political and church leaders on both sides of the border.

The memo noted Adams as saying that "there had been a series of unfortunate mistakes which have had terrible consequences for the civilian victims. The onus is on the IRA to sort all of this out... to get its house in order. I remain confident that they will do that".

Mrs Foster often cites the attack as a major part of her political formation and part of the reason she later left the UUP to join the DUP in response to the Good Friday Agreement.

She later took Mr Wilson, who has suffered life-long injuries, to meet the Irish Government in Dublin.

In a detailed assessment of IRA, Sinn Fein and loyalist statements in the two months from May 21, 1988 to July 21, 1988, the Anglo-Irish section of the Department of Foreign Affairs noted that the Sinn Fein newspaper, An Phoblacht, was trying to claim victories with front-page reports of "successful" IRA attacks in Lisburn, where six soldiers were blown up, in south Armagh, where the IRA shot down a helicopter and West Germany, where the IRA bombed a British Army base.

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