Belfast Telegraph

Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald told to condemn IRA actions after saying she'd attend a Poppy Day bombing memorial

Mary Lou McDonald
Mary Lou McDonald

By David Young

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald has said she would attend a commemoration for victims of the IRA's Remembrance Sunday bombing in Enniskillen.

Twelve people were killed and 68 others injured in the 1987 atrocity.

Ms McDonald said that if she was invited to a commemoration for the bombing she would attend.

"I at any stage as a political leader will do what I can to afford a hand of friendship and understanding," she told the Business Post newspaper. "If invited, of course I would attend, there's no question about that."

No one has ever been convicted of the atrocity when an IRA bomb exploded during a Remembrance Sunday event at the town's war memorial. Eleven people were killed. The 12th victim, Ronnie Hill, slipped into a coma and died 13 years later.

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The Enniskillen blast aftermath

However, Ms McDonald's remarks caused controversy.

The South East Fermanagh Foundation (SEFF) victims group said she first needed to condemn the atrocity. Spokesman Kenny Donaldson said: "If the president of the political arm of the Provisional IRA is genuine in her concern for the Enniskillen Poppy Day victims then the following needs to happen.

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"First, an unqualified condemnation by her of the wrong of Enniskillen, that there was no justification for the murder of innocents coming together to respectfully remember the war dead who came from right across the community.

"Mary Lou McDonald then needs to call upon the republican community to finally come forward and disclose the truth of Enniskillen, thus providing the families of the bereaved and others injured with some level of accountability for the grievous wrongs visited upon them and which have continued for 32 long years. Having done this, then she could attend Remembrance Sunday as an ordinary citizen, paying her respects and acknowledging the heartache and pain of those impacted by the Poppy Day massacre.

"The focus of her attendance should not and must not be upon her or any other political leader - focus should be on the war dead and also the families of those murdered on Remembrance Sunday 1987."

Mr Donaldson said "the days of political, self-serving stunts must be over".

Ulster Unionist MLA Rosemary Barton, who represents the Fermanagh-South Tyrone area, also called on Ms McDonald to apologise for the IRA murders.

"It sounds unusual that Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald says that she would like an invitation to the Enniskillen War Memorial ceremony," she said.

"For over 100 years that party and its representatives have refused to attend the War Memorial commemorations, even when they had the opportunity to do so."

Mrs Barton said "a good starting position" for Ms McDonald would be for her to issue "an unequivocal apology for these and all murders carried out by the IRA and an acceptance that their murderous campaign was wrong and unjustified".

In 1997 the then Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams apologised for the Enniskillen bombing.

"I hope there will be no more Enniskillens and I am deeply sorry about what happened in Enniskillen," he said at the time.

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