THE principals of Lisneal, Oakgrove and St Joseph’s in Londonderry have lamented the collapse of a charity established in 1989 to build peace in Northern Ireland, which was inspired by the late Senator Gordon Wilson’s forgiveness in the face of the loss of his daughter, Marie, in the 1987 Enniskillen bombing.
The local principals were among 14 school leaders across Northern Ireland who came together to express “sorrow and concern” following news of the collapse of the Spirit of Enniskillen Trust.
They made their statement after trustees decided to wind up the charity due to a £250,000 deficit in its pension provision.
In a statement a solicitor for the firm said: “Reluctantly and with deep regret, the trustees have concluded that the only viable alternative is to wind up the charity and cease operations.”
Oakgrove Integrated College Vice-Principal John Harkin said: “Few words we quote in assembly have the impact still which Gordon Wilson’s do. Amid the recriminations about the past, political wrangling in the present, and anxiety about the future, they ring out still: ‘I bear them no ill-will, I bear no grudge.’
“Whose life cannot be enriched by work inspired by such sentiments? We need to find a way to keep giving that message.”
In a joint statement 14 principals across the province said: “We deeply regret the closure of the Spirit of Enniskillen Trust with the loss of key staff and several vital programmes.
“What must now happen is that a way be found to ensure that this work continues, although the Trust is gone. The work must go on so that we do not turn back.”
The school leaders continued: “We have seen first-hand in our schools the power to change society when young people experience change in themselves.
“Those of us at the cutting-edge know that in our divided society, change does not come intellectually, but emotionally. There is now a gap which must be filled.”