Belfast Telegraph

Remembrance Sunday: Enniskillen survivor's panic attack over bomb bid at Omagh Cenotaph


By Donna Deeney

A man who survived the Poppy Day massacre 30 years ago revealed that news a bomb had been planted close to the Cenotaph in Omagh gave him distressing flashbacks.

Stephen Gault saw his father Samuel killed in Enniskillen in 1987 when the no warning IRA device exploded during the Remembrance Day ceremony in the town.

He heard about a security alert suspending the Co Tyrone Remembrance event yesterday as he was preparing to attend his own local service, and later went into a panic after a fire alarm went off in his church.

"We got the news as we were going to the Cenotaph," he told the Belfast Telegraph last night.

"It was very ironic in the church, the fire alarm went off suddenly.

"For me personally I took a panic attack because that was the noise I heard on the day the bomb went off. After I had heard the news about Omagh earlier that day, it took me right back to the bomb, I felt like it was happening again."

Mr Gault said those who planted what police said was a pipe bomb were "totally disgraceful".

"We are supposed to be in a society that has moved on, you would almost have got the impression it was 30 years ago, it's like the bombers are saying: 'We haven't gone away you know'," he added.

The security alert at Drumragh Avenue resulted in the cancellation of the wreath-laying ceremony.

Chief Constable George Hamilton said the device was left to cause the "maximum amount of disruption".

He said: "This is the actions of a small and callous group of violent people who have nothing to offer the communities other than fear and intimidation.

"Whilst our investigation is still at a very early stage, one strong line of enquiry is that violent dissident republicans are responsible. Their actions have demonstrated the disregard and disrespect they have for this community which has already suffered so much pain and heartache at the hands of terrorists.

"It was a sickening and appalling act."

A Remembrance service was held at Omagh Academy, but wreaths will be laid at the Cenotaph next Sunday instead.

Brian Maguire, the Royal British Legion area manager for Ireland, said: "We are shocked and deeply saddened by the disruption to the Remembrance service in Omagh.

"War memorials honour the memory of the members of the armed forces who have made the ultimate sacrifice and those who defend the freedom we enjoy.

"They deserve to be treated with the utmost respect."

DUP MLA Tom Buchanan said: "Had this deadly device not been discovered we could very well have been looking at a repeat of the terrible atrocity in Enniskillen exactly 30 years ago, which is a chilling thought.

"It is disgusting that anyone would target a war memorial at any time, but on Remembrance Sunday it is an act of particular hatred."

Ulster Unionist, Sinn Fein, SDLP, Alliance and Green Party representatives also condemned it.

Belfast Telegraph

Daily News Headlines Newsletter

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox.


From Belfast Telegraph