Belfast Telegraph

State papers: Enniskillen bomb was to 'provoke loyalists'

The IRA’s 1987 bombing of the Cenotaph in Enniskillen killed 12 people
The IRA’s 1987 bombing of the Cenotaph in Enniskillen killed 12 people

By Ed Carty

The Enniskillen bomb may have been a carefully planned and premeditated attack aimed at provoking loyalists, previously classified Irish papers claim.

Officials were tasked with gauging the thinking behind the Remembrance Sunday atrocity which claimed 12 lives and left another 63 injured.

One diplomat warned the bombing may have been calculated to draw a loyalist backlash. The bomb exploded at the cenotaph in Enniskillen on November 8, 1987.

In a report for Dublin's Department of Foreign Affairs five days after the attack, the official disputed the IRA and Sinn Fein's explanation for the bombing and loss of life.

"The operation may not have been a bungled 'maverick' action, as Sinn Fein and the IRA have suggested," a diplomat wrote.

"It may have been a carefully planned, premeditated attack on Remembrance Day, aimed at provoking a loyalist backlash, driving a wedge between the two governments and bringing the Protestant community and the British back together."

The file also revealed that then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher viewed the attack as the "last straw" in a list of failures under the Anglo-Irish Agreement.

Dermot Gallagher, an Irish government diplomat, wrote a confidential note on a lunch meeting with the PM's Press secretary, Bernard Ingham.

"There was a deep sense of shock in No 10," he said.

"Enniskillen has hardened Mrs Thatcher's heart," Mr Ingham said.

Documents on the atrocity also showed SDLP leader John Hume initially believed the IRA could not have carried out the attack. Two days after the incident he told a Department of Foreign Affairs contact that he had changed his mind and that the Provos were to blame "in the knowledge that there would be civilian casualties".

"If so they had completely misread the Catholic view of Poppy Day," he said.

Belfast Telegraph


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