Belfast Telegraph

Denzil McDaniel: Families let down again by refusal to sanction reopening of Enniskillen bomb inquests

Society at large, and the political process in particular, continues to fail miserably to formally address the legacy of Northern Ireland's troubled past
Society at large, and the political process in particular, continues to fail miserably to formally address the legacy of Northern Ireland's troubled past

By Denzil McDaniel

Society at large, and the political process in particular, continues to fail miserably to formally address the legacy of Northern Ireland's troubled past.

So it's often left to victims, families, journalists, lawyers and campaigners to delve into the murky undergrowth of a conflict that descended into the abyss.

Which, to use a cliché, raises more questions than answers.

The Remembrance Sunday bombing in Enniskillen in 1987 is one case in point. Even 31 years on, the image of 12 innocent civilians being killed while honouring their dead has the power to move.

Like many of the bereaved and injured on all sides, the Enniskillen families struggle to find the truth of what happened.

As we entered 2019, the macabre spectre of British State involvement in the murders of British citizens at a War Memorial emerged when Irish State papers revealed a letter had been written to the Republic's Minister of Foreign Affairs Brian Lenihan less than a week after the atrocity.

Claiming to be an MI5 operative, the letter writer said British Intelligence knew about the planned attack, but let it go ahead so that the IRA would score an "own goal" and face a backlash.

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There is simply no way of knowing how authentic the letter is.

But the thought of State involvement is just another rumour to add to the hurt and conjecture which families have faced.

Immediately after the bomb questions were being raised about the failure by the security forces to search the Reading Rooms, the building yards away from the War Memorial where the bomb had been placed.

There has been criticism of the original investigation and no one has ever been charged with any offence over the attack. Some relatives believe that someone is being protected, and one victim has even suggested that some of those suspected of the attack have been given "letters of comfort".

A number of internal police reviews and an investigation by the Historical Enquiries Team have failed to assuage the belief of some that effectively the justice system has drawn a line under the case a long time ago, such is the suspicion that there is something dark and sinister to hide.

News has now emerged that the Attorney General John Larkin has turned down an application by a group of relatives to reopen the inquests.

So the rumours, and the hurt, continue.

Denzil McDaniel is ex-editor of the Enniskillen-based Impartial Reporter newspaper

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