Enniskillen survivor: It’s a miracle I’m alive

At the age of 15, Stephen Ross's face and life were shattered when an IRA bomb exploded at the war memorial in Enniskillen on Remembrance Sunday, 8 November 1987.

The bomb killed 12 people and injured 63 but what is remarkable is how Mr Ross and others have managed to put the pieces of their lives back together and to turn one of the most significant terrorist atrocities of 30 years of the Troubles into a message of hope and forgiveness for the future.

Here he tells the story of his recovery:

At the very time we stood remembering those who had died and who were badly injured in two world wars, both Catholic and Protestant, we did not expect to be numbered among them.

It was a miracle that I survived, buried under a huge slab of concrete from the exploded building.

I still remember the sound of screaming voices, the taste of concrete and blood, putting my hand in my mouth and most of my teeth had gone and not being able to feel my left leg.

I was airlifted to a hospital in Londonderry where two sets of surgeons set about reconstructing my shattered face and left leg.

Image:The Cenotaph at Enniskillen after the bombing in November 1987

Looking back, it showed me that there are forces of good at work; many more good people than those who planted the bomb and supported them.

It was the prayers of other Christians and the letters I received in hospital that showed me love in the midst of hatred.

I focused on getting better and not being angry.

If I let anger take root in my life against God or against the people who support terrorism, it would ultimately consume me and affect me physically and emotionally.

Eleven years later in August 1998, on the very hour of the very day I was married, the Omagh Bomb exploded, claiming 29 lives.

Stephen Ross, Enniskillen bombing survivor
Image:Stephen Ross recovered by focusing on getting better, rather than being angry

So I am mindful of those who have to live with the loss of their father, sister, bother, son or daughter and injuries each day and with so many other tragic events from Northern Ireland's past.

There will be a time for justice and answers to the questions of why we had to go through this experience this but I choose not to be discouraged by the fact that the victims of what happened in 1987 have experienced neither to date.

I trust God who has forgiven me much and that enables me to forgive and to move on.

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