Seeing the hurt and horror of that morning - every day
Published: 25 Oct 2012 15:30
"A lady once said to me, 'Every time I see Jim Dixon, I think of the bomb'. I am living with Jim Dixon and I am watching the bomb every day," she said.
Her husband was horrifically injured in the Enniskillen bombing and today, almost 25 years later, he still bears the appalling scars.
Given the catalogue of injuries, it is remarkable that he survived. His skull was split in three places and the fluid from his brain was oozing out of his ears. The bone at the back of his eyes disintegrated into his head. The roof of his mouth was blown out and right side of his jaw was missing. Ribs were broken, hips smashed and his elbows were broken in three places.
His wife, who has supported him and watched his suffering over more than two decades, said: "I did have anger how anybody could plan an atrocity on innocent people. Standing there, I watched the suffering of Jim. I can't feel his pain. I watch him struggling to eat. Sometimes he groans. I can listen but I can't do anything about it. He sometimes moans about the problems that are facing him with other people in their suffering. Our country hasn't done anything to relieve the evils of people who carried out this atrocity, I have never heard him moaning for himself.
"After the bomb I had to put my faith into action. I know God is still in control of our lives".
Mr Dixon acknowledges that it is the families of those caught up in the tragedy who are affected. "The bomb changed my life and the lives of so many. It is not the person in the bomb, it is the families that have to live with it," he said.
And there have been effects on those who saw unspeakable things. "And the people who looked at bodies as they lay there. They will never forget them. When you speak to them, you see the hurt and horror of that morning".
"My profile has been regarded as being harsh," he said. He recalls being asked by an interviewer that he must "hate the IRA". Responding to that suggestion, he tells the story of praying with an IRA man he knew from Clones. The man had been hospitalised after suffering a severe stroke.
"In hospital one evening, I saw a man called Gerry. He was a IRA man. He had told me he had murdered a number of policemen. I walked into the ward and saw Gerry, I did not want to go near Gerry. Evil was emanating from him. God said to me - in my eye you are no different to Gerry. I had to go to talk to Gerry. As I stepped forward I said 'God help me'. I said 'Gerry, Lord Love you'. I thought somebody had hit me with a hammer. The reality of this was I was looking at a man who had murdered. . .I started to pray for Gerry, and everything I said, Gerry said. I felt I should pray the sinners' prayer for Gerry, that God would forgive his past. Tears were running down Gerry's face. I went back up to hospital some days later and the Sister told me he had passed away. Gerry had gone to meet the judge of all the earth," he said.
On the morning of the bombing, it was a first for Mr Dixon to attend the Remembrance event at the Cenotaph. As a church organist he was usually by the organ preparing to play. But his daughter was the Head Girl for the High School and he wanted to take a photograph of her laying the wreath for posterity. He recalls seeing her school principal, Ronnie Hill, and thinking that he looked lonely, started to walk towards him to speak to him. "I took seven or eight steps and heard the detonator. I did not know what it was at the time. That is all I remember [of that day]".
His suffering remains with him today.
He explained: "I will never forget those times. Every minute was a month. I said to the surgeon. Put me out of my misery. It was indescribable -- the fear, the terror of the bomb, it seemed as if I was trapped in the crypt of hell. It was fear beyond description. Such evil. Man's inhumanity to man.
"I can't swallow my spittle. I can't eat brown bread in case it might end up in my lungs. My mouth is paralysed. I can't tell if I have chewed my food. My tongue is 80 per cent paralysed. I have no tears and have major problems with my eyes. Life has become very difficult. Life has been changed to an awful extent and in a lot of cases, not worth living".