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Rebuilding lives, rebuilding a community and a time to remember

Published: 8 Nov 2012 13:000 comments

There are many people around the world who hear the name Enniskillen and think immediately of one thing; the Remembrance Sunday bombing of 1987.

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And indeed, it was an horrific, dark day when a bomb was detonated at the town's War Memorial as people gathered to pay their respects to those who had given their lives in world conflicts.

It remains a blot on our history.

First and foremost, it should be said, it was an evil and reckless act. To say it was wrong is an understatement. There can be very few now who could show any equivocation about that.

For many, it seems incredible that 25 years have passed.

Society moves on, and it is not being disrepectful to those who have suffered to say that Enniskillen has moved on. Many physical developments have taken place and the town remains one where cross-community relationships are good -- just as it was before the bombing.

But the 25th anniversary of the bombing is a time for great reflection, for individuals and for the community as a whole.

The victims cannot be forgotten. We remember those who died. And people who were bereaved by a loved one being violently torn away from them will remember their relatives today. But it is not as if they do not remember them every day.

We spare a thought today, too, for those most grievously injured; some of whom still suffer physical pain every day.

There is often talk about dealing with our past; but, of course, there are many, many people in Enniskillen and beyond who are forced to deal with their past every day by continuing to endure physical pain and mental scars.

It is understandable that such people do not feel they have closure.

The Enniskillen bombing took place at a time when Northern Ireland was staring into the abyss.

After almost two decades of bloody violence, the community was slipping further and further into conflict. Acts of violence were becoming more and more random and callous.

The horror of Enniskillen, therefore, must surely have been one factor in bringing us to our senses. No one act could turn the juggernaut of conflict, but Enniskillen is one of those tragedies which forced people to stop and realise that the conflict could not continue.

For its part, Enniskillen showed the world a wonderful example. Even though the violence was perpetrated against one side of the community, the division which might have followed did not happen and neighbour comforted neighbour.

The words of Gordon Wilson touched the world. Not everybody in Enniskillen will have agreed with him, and maybe even now feel they cannot forgive.

But his words played a significant part in keeping the lid on a society which could have torn itself apart.

The victims are not forgotten, but in the years following 1987, Enniskillen rebuilt itself, physically and spiritually.

Remember and change has been the key phrase. The best memorial or tribute that can be paid to any victim of our Troubles, is a determination that society will never again try to resolve difference in such a violent way.

Enniskillen responded with dignity in 1987, and as we reflect on a sombre 25th anniversary, we can do so again.

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