THE new Chairman of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council has said he will not “go down the road of condemning” the Enniskillen bombing which occurred 30 years ago this November. 
Sinn Fein Councillor Stephen McCann, who took up the position last month, would not denounce the IRA attack which killed 11 people and injured 63 people in one of the darkest days of the Troubles.
“People in my community have suffered as well and you can get into this thing of do you condemn this and do you condemn that? We are talking about an incident that happened 30 years ago, albeit still very raw in people’s minds and all the rest,” he told The Impartial Reporter.
“But how do you move forward? Do you dwell on the past? How do you bring this forward?” he asked.
The 35-year-old father of three decided to get involved in politics to highlight issues in West Tyrone.
“The root cause of the problem was the British involvement in Ireland,” he said. 
He recalls school bus journeys from Trillick to Enniskillen where Catholics like him would sit at one end of the bus and protestants on the other. “There was no direct integration,” he said. 
When former Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness died earlier this year, Councillor McCann, an accomplished piper, was chosen to lead the funeral cortège through the streets of Londonderry.
“One hero of mine is Martin McGuinness and it was an honour to play the bagpipes at his funeral,” he said.
Councillor McCann, describes his three children as his “three musketeers” and his parents; Gabriel, who was 39 when he died, and Margaret, who died in 2008, as his personal heroes.
He also praised Seamus McElwaine, the former IRA volunteer who was shot dead by the SAS in 1986 as he and Sean Lynch, now a Sinn Fein MLA, tried to ambush an Army patrol near Rosslea.
“Seamus McElwaine was a person who played his part in the conflict,” said Councillor McCann.
“It’s people like Seamus McElwaine who has made it possible for people like me to come forward and do what I have to do without having to worry about going to jail. 
“They’ve set the tone for a peaceful resolution to where we are going. That didn’t happen by mistake. People like Seamus McElwaine and others played their part and we are now living in times of peace,” he said.
Asked if he believed the IRA violence was right, Councillor McCann said: “People at the time took a decision as what the best way was to defend themselves, initially,” he said.
Asked again if he thought violence was the solution, Councillor McCann said: “Is violence ever right? I think the IRA came forward, nationalists were under siege at times, shoot to kill in Tyrone comes to mind.
“Who was there to defend Irish nationalists? Shoot to kill brought people’s faith in the police service and security service to zero. People didn’t feel protected, people looked to other means for protection and I suppose the IRA was who they looked to. They existed, probably because there was this gap,” he said. 
Councillor McCann has described the Enniskillen bombing in 1987 as “a dreadful day.”
Asked if he condemned it, Councillor McCann, who was five at the time of the bombing, said: “You see, you can go down this road of condemning this and commending that, and commending this and condemning that. But it was wrong and Sinn Fein came out at the time and said it was wrong. I am happy with that,” he said. 
Following the result of the EU referendum, Councillor McCann retweeted a message on Twitter by user ‘Irish Unity’ which read: “That awkward moment when DUP/TUV do more damage to the British economy in one night than the IRA did in years.” 
Asked if he believes that to be the case, he replied: “Economically, in my opinion, it will be a disaster.”
Asked if it Brexit will be more damaging than bombs, as the tweet he shared suggested, Councillor McCann said: “Economically, if you look, the IRA had a campaign which targeted economic areas. Brexit could have the potential to be economically disastrous.” 
Councillor McCann believes the tricolour has a “right” to fly at Enniskillen Townhall. 
“The tricolour in my opinion has got as just much right to be flying from Enniskillen Townhall as the union jack. If the union jack can fly from any building so can the tricolour,” he said. 
As Council chairman, he has pledged to “meet as many groups as I can.”
“To move forward and to build bridges you have to understand where people come from,” he said.