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Saturday, November 8, 1997 Published at 17:34 GMT


Adams apologises for Enniskillen bombing

Relatives remember those who died in bombing

The Sinn Fein leader, Gerry Adams, has apologised for the Enniskillen bombing, in which the IRA killed eleven people and scores were injured on Remembrance Sunday ten years ago.

"I hope there will be no more Enniskillen's and I am deeply sorry about what happened in Enniskillen," Mr Adams told the BBC.

"But I think we can only have a guarantee of a peaceful future when we tackle the root causes of the conflict and when we resolve them," said the leader of Sinn Fein, the political wing of the IRA.

His comments came as relatives gathered in Enniskillen to remember those who died in the bombing.

[ image: The huge bomb devastated Enniskillen]
The huge bomb devastated Enniskillen
Eleven were killed on 8th November 1987, and 63 were wounded, many of whom have never fully recovered from their injuries.

Those who gathered on Saturday included survivors of the blast, which happened next to the town's Cenotaph.

A private service was held in the town's Presbyterian church, beneath a stained glass window erected in memory of six victims who worshipped there.

Afterwards relatives walked the short distance to the Cenotaph where they laid flowers.

[ image: Ronnie improvement]
Ronnie improvement
The bombing had extra impact coming, as it did, on Rememberance Sunday - the day when those who lost their lives during the First and Second World Wars are remembered.

The IRA said they had meant to kill a colour party of British soldiers who were due to take part in the ceremony but most casualties were civilians and the attack failed to undermine London's resolve.

Ronnie Hill, former headmaster of Enniskillen High School, has been in a coma ever since that fateful day in November 1987.

[ image: Eleven people were killed in the bombing]
Eleven people were killed in the bombing
Standing in the crowd near the Cenotaph memorial, he caught the full force of the blast and suffered a fractured jaw, shoulder and pelvis and slipped into a coma.

His devoted wife Noreen has looked after him for the past 10 years.

A devout Christian, Mrs Hill says her faith has kept her going and she does not display any bitterness or vengefulness towards those who planted the bomb.

She still hopes he will, one day, wake up. "I dream about it sometimes," she says, "I used to have a dream that he was walking about."

Nathan Chambers, 25, remembers the dull thud as the bomb threw a wall of jagged masonry over the solemn crowd honouring the dead.

"There was silence for a while. Then people started screaming and shouting," he remembers.

As rescuers clawed at rubble dragging out casualties, he struggled to his feet but collapsed, his leg shattered.

Ten years on and the poppy remains a contentious symbol in Ulster - 20 Protestant workers were sent home from a textile factory in Londonderry last week after wearing them to work.

The management wanted them to take the poppies off out of respect for Irish Nationalist workers' feelings - the poppy is seen as a symbol of Britishness by many Catholics. The incident provoked such controversy that it was even raised in Parliament by Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble.

Irish president-elect Mary McAleese has declined to wear a poppy at her inauguration ceremony - which coincides with Armistice Day - but has agreed to attend a Remembrance Day celebration in Dublin's main Protestant Cathedral.

Remberance Day is commemorated every November on the second Sunday of the month. This year, Remembrance Day falls on Sunday 9th November.

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