Monsignor Joseph McGuinness has said it would be “a tragic irony” if a memorial to the 12 victims of the 1987 Poppy Day bomb were to “create division when the bombing itself did not”.
The Clogher Diocesan Administrator was speaking amid ongoing discussions over the placement of the memorial, unveiled last Wednesday on the 30th anniversary of the bomb.
It has since been moved into “a temporary secure location” by the Ely Centre, who commissioned it, until its permanent home is determined.
The proposal had been that the new memorial be sited at the Clinton Centre on land held by St Michael’s Diocesan Trust.
The memorial’s original planning application indicated that it would be located on a footpath at the side of the building. Following an objection, a second revised application moved it to the front of the Clinton Centre, which is private land leased by the church to the Fermanagh University Partnership Board.
Last Thursday, Fermanagh and Omagh District Council said the applicant had indicated on their planning form that notice had been served on three parties including St Michael’s Diocesan Trust in January.
But in a letter issued by Monsignor McGuinness to parishioners of St Michael’s at the weekend, he stated that the proposal for the new memorial was first brought to his attention on 26 September.
He also insisted that the Catholic Church had “no objection whatsoever” to a permanent memorial being erected to bomb victims but stressed that “complex issues” needed to be addressed which “couldn’t be resolved in such a short space of time”.
These include “legal implications” of their proposed lease arrangement with tenants FUPB, “health and safety considerations” and planned revamp works at the Clinton Centre.
Private discussions will now take place over the coming weeks between the Ely Centre and St Michael’s over the issues raised.
“We look forward to further negotiations with the Trust and our hope is that agreement can be reached ensuring the aspirations of the families are achieved,” a spokesman said.
Stephen Gault, whose father Samuel died in the blast and whose wife Sharon is a parishioner of St Michael’s, has said his fears around the placing of the memorial have not been allayed by the church statement.
“While their statement says they have no objections to the memorial which is welcome, they have not actually given us their final consent”.
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