Remembrance Day bombing

8 November 2014

On 8 November 1987 in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, a Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) bomb exploded near the town’s war memorial during a Remembrance Sunday ceremony, which was being held to commemorate British military war dead. The Remembrance Day bombing (also known as the Enniskillen bombing or Poppy Day massacre) killed eleven people (ten civilians and a police officer) with a further 63 people injured: Bertha Armstrong, Wesley Armstrong, Samuel Gault, Nessie Johnston, Kitchener Johnston, John Megaw, Nessie Mullan, William Mullan, Alberta Quinton, Marie Wilson and one Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officer, Edward Armstrong. There was also a twelfth fatality, Ronnie Hill, who died after spending thirteen years in a coma.

The IRA said it had made a mistake and that its target had been the British soldiers parading to the memorial. The unit who carried out the bombing was disbanded. The bombing was strongly condemned by all sides and weakened the IRA’s and Sinn Féin’s support. It also facilitated the passing of the Extradition Act, which made it easier to extradite IRA suspects from the Republic of Ireland to the UK. Loyalist paramilitaries responded to the bombing with ‘revenge’ attacks on Catholic civilians.

The bombing has been described as a turning point in ‘the Troubles’ and an incident that shook the IRA to its core.

The Irish band U2 were holding a concert in Denver, Colorado the same day. During a performance of their song Sunday Bloody Sunday, singer Bono passionately condemned the bombing, by repeating ‘f*** the revolution’ several times in his mid-song speech, as well as criticising the armchair republicanism of many Irish-Americans and stating that the majority of people in the Republic of Ireland did not support the IRA. The footage is included in U2’s rockumentary Rattle and Hum!

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