Thursday, November 17, 2005

Lest we forget

Kit Johnston was just an ordinary ambulance man (if such a thing exists), attending accident victims and the urgently ill in the west of Ulster for over a quarter of a century irrespective of creed or colour. Kit had that optimistic and efficient manner typical of all who share his profession, north and south. His service to the people of west Ulster in 29 years was recognised with a British Empire Medal. I will always remember him for saving the sight in my left eye by driving me the 60 miles to Derry in just under an hour - and that was on 1970's roads.

Kit had the fatal misfortune, together with his wife and 9 others, to be standing beside the war memorial in Enniskillen on Remembrance Day 1987 when an IRA bomb ripped the heart out of the community in a way that, like Omagh, La Mon, Brighton and Bloody Sunday, will never be forgotten. It was ironically a scene of carnage and devastation, like those from which he used to rescue others, that Kit himself died amid unspeakable pain and confusion.

The Enniskillen Remembrance Day Bombing was one of the few terrorist crimes ever to draw an apology from Sinn Féin. (The above link also has a video conveying what happened that day).

A framed montage of the victims' photographs was put up by colleagues in the ambulance station at the Erne Hospital. Strangely, though, it was removed without comment last weekend. Remembrance Weekend.

What an affront to the memory of those who died. There's nothing political about the plaque, it's a simple aid to remembrance - and not just remembering the victims either. The really important aspect of such memorials is that they remind us all of what was done in the name of Irish nationalism and that no aspiration - political or otherwise - is important enough to merit barbarism of that kind, to any one. Let's be Big and remember that.

Let's not forget.


At 1:42 p.m., Blogger Jo said...

Hi John I fonally worked out what BU means lol, I heard Aieeln Q onb this morning expressing the hope that this was all a silly misunderstanding and that most if not all people would be horrified at someone taking offence at this photograph. Its hopefully a storm in a teacup and I hope thatever misguided thinking led someone to remove it is speedily corrected.

At 7:05 p.m., Anonymous maca said...

Spot on John, good post!

At 3:35 a.m., Blogger United Irelander said...

Good post, John. We all need to acknowledge the wrongs that were committed in the past.

At 8:32 p.m., Anonymous aileen said...


Great post. I never knew Kit myself but my mother was very fond of both him and Jessie.

At 12:50 a.m., Blogger The Phantom said...


This is only one of a number of your posts that has impressed, and I think, enlightened me.

Your site is an example of the Internet at its best and most valuable.

The reader, from any remote corner of the world, gets insights into issues and places and individual people that would not have been possible before.

I've linked Big Ulsterman to my site.

Thank you for your work.

And may God bless Kit Johnston, his wife, and all the others.

At 10:50 a.m., Anonymous ConorPatrick said...

any chance of highlighting some of the devastation and grievances caused by the notoriously sectarian loyalist death squads? i mean, the majority of people here may actually know both sides but i reckon there are plenty of others who dont know much about the troubles and this whole 'this is what happened in the name of Irish nationalism' is very tiresome really.

At 7:50 p.m., Blogger The Phantom said...

This is hardly a site that bashes Irish nationalism. Read the posts on this site from the beginning, you will see that.


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