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The BBC's Noreen Erskin
"Mourners heard the bombing had robbed education of a progressive leader"
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Family friend, Dr John Ross
"The Hill family have been under enormous strain for 13 years"
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Saturday, 30 December, 2000, 16:21 GMT
IRA bomb victim buried
Ronnie Hills coffin is removed from his home in Holywood
Ronnie Hill's coffin is taken from his Hollywood home
A man who remained in a coma for 13 years following an IRA Remembrance Day bombing has finally been laid to rest.

Ronnie Hill, 68, slipped into a coma two days after being injured in a bomb in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, in November 1987.

Mr Hill, the former headmaster of Enniskillen High School, never regained consciousness. He died on Thursday.

Mourners at his funeral on Saturday heard there had been "no evidence of bitterness" from his devoted wife, Noreen, towards those behind the attack, which killed 11 people and injured 63 others.

I have found no evidence of bitterness, but rather of prayer for the perpetrators and of the good that can come out of evil

Bishop Brian Hannon

But it was said there was regret that the attack had "robbed education of a progressive leader".

Crowds braved the elements to pay their last respects, as Mr Hill's coffin was carried through Kilkeel, County Down, for a service at Mourne Presbyterian Church, where Mrs Hill is a member.

Presbyterian moderator Dr Trevor Morrow was among those who took part in the service, reading out the pastoral prayer.

Mrs Hill, her son Keith and daughters Averil, Marilyn and Siobhan, heard a tribute read out in church which referred to Mr Hill as "at heart a family man".

Bishop Brian Hannon, a former rector in Enniskillen, told mourners he was in the town on the day of the bombing.

He recalled how Mr Hill, who was also a devoted Sunday School teacher, had let his class out early so they could go to the war memorial.

"The bomb went off, and Ronnie was among those rescued from the rubble still with a chance of life," Bishop Hannon said.

But within two days Mr Hill had slipped into the coma from which he never recovered.

Noreen Hill watches as her husband's coffin is removed
Noreen Hill watches as her husband's remains are removed

Mrs Hill set up a residential nursing home for her husband in Holywood, County Down, and spent the last nine years caring for him.

Bishop Hannon told how she was convinced he was aware of what was going on around him, and spent many hours talking to him, reading the bible and praying.

"I have found no evidence of bitterness, but rather of prayer for the perpetrators and of the good that can come out of evil," he added.

He also expressed thanks on behalf of the family for the medical and nursing care given to Mr Hill.

Before the funeral cortege travelled to Kilkeel, former Presbyterian moderator Dr John Ross conducted a private service for close family and friends at Mr Hill's home in Holywood.

He said afterwards: "It's a day of mixed emotions".

Mr Hill, who was born in Dublin, met his wife when he took up a teaching post in Kilkeel.

After they married, the couple spent six years as missionary workers in eastern Nigeria before returning to Northern Ireland.

After the funeral service Mr Hill was buried in the graveyard adjoining Mourne Presbyterian Church.

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28 Dec 00 | Northern Ireland
Remembrance day bomb casualty dies
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