Republicans like to venerate their dead, but where is the memorial to the victims of Bloody Friday?
There’s a stark imbalance in the way perpetrators and those they murdered are remembered, writes Nelson McCausland
Thirty years ago the Provisional IRA bombed the Remembrance Sunday ceremony in Enniskillen and 12 innocent people were murdered. The murderous intention of the IRA was more fully revealed when it was discovered that it had also placed a bomb at Tullyhommon, on the border between Fermanagh and Donegal.
There, the little Remembrance Sunday parade consisted mainly of children from the Boys’ and Girls’ Brigades, but their lives were saved when the wire leading to the bomb was broken some time before the planned explosion.
Last week a memorial to the victims of the Enniskillen bomb was put in place for a special 30th anniversary commemorative service.
The stark simplicity of the memorial was impressive, as was the service, and it was especially important that each of the victims was named on the memorial.
However, immediately after the service the memorial was removed, because the owners of the ground, St Michael’s Diocesan Trust, had not yet granted permission for its installation.
It is deeply regrettable that such permission has still not been granted, even though there is planning permission, and the sooner the trust grants permission the better.
Stephen Gault’s father Samuel was murdered by the bomb and both he and others spoke movingly about the hurt caused by this delay.
Indeed, Stephen’s wife Sharon, who is a Roman Catholic, has also written to the Diocesan Trust urging it to resolve the matter as soon as possible.
There is something very important about memorials and there is something important about the names on memorials.
They provide a place for remembrance and reflection for those who lost their loved ones and they also serve as a reminder of the brutality of the terrorism that blighted Northern Ireland for so many years.
The name of each innocent victim is a reminder of the human loss and of the pain suffered by each family.
The memorials remind us of the terror, the names remind us of the tears, and we must hope that they serve as a warning to future generations.
Meanwhile, those who perpetrated the Enniskillen bombing and the wider republican movement, including Sinn Fein, have erected memorial after memorial to members of the IRA who died during their terrorist campaign.
Indeed, they make much of those members of the IRA who were killed on “active service” by the security forces.
There is a coherent Sinn Fein strategy to sanitise the IRA, legitimise the IRA, eulogise the IRA, and demonise the British Army, especially the UDR, and the RUC.
The erection of Irish republican memorials — most of them illegally — is part of that strategy of rewriting history.
So, too, are the demands from Sinn Fein for the Easter lily to be recognised on the same basis as the poppy.
However, there is no equivalence. Indeed, the annual Easter lily appeal is launched each year in Belfast jointly by Sinn Fein and the National Graves Association, so presumably the proceeds go to the NGA, which maintains the graves of IRA terrorists.
Meanwhile, many of the atrocities perpetrated by IRA terrorists have not been memorialised and, as the years pass, the atrocities will fade from the general public memory, remembered only by the families of the victims.
On July 21, 1972 the IRA planted 20 bombs in Belfast and they exploded in the space of 80 minutes; indeed, most of them exploded within 30 minutes. Nine people were killed, 130 people were injured and the day became known as Bloody Friday.
Yet, 45 years after the atrocity, there is no Bloody Friday memorial in the heart of the city and, year after year, the anniversary passes with, perhaps, a short paragraph in a newspaper.
There is a stark imbalance in memorialisation between the perpetrators and the innocent victims — especially in Belfast.
As our society seeks to address the legacy of the past, is it not time to resolve that inequitable and unacceptable situation?
Belfast Telegraph Digital