Spirit of Enniskillen Trust to close because of pension debts

Charity founded after the bombings of November 1987 to promote cross-cultural understanding has debts of £250,000

Enniskillen, November 1987
Enniskillen, November 1987

The Spirit of Enniskillen Trust, a Northern Irish charity formed to promote cross-cultural understanding among young people in the wake of the Enniskillen bombing of November 1987, is to close because of pension debts.

The charity was part of the Northern Ireland Charities Pension Scheme, a multi-employer defined-benefit pension scheme run by the Pensions Trust, along with about 20 other Northern Irish charities, including Nicva, the umbrella body for charities in Northern Ireland.

The charity’s principal creditor was the pension scheme, and it had debts of £250,000, according to John Gordon, a solicitor at Napier & Sons, which is handling the insolvency.

He said the organisation’s reserves were tied up in its only building, which was worth about £150,000.

Five staff will lose their jobs as a result. Gordon said any wages they were owed would be paid in full.

"This was a well-run charity with a wonderful mission," he said. "But it could not see any way to meet its debts."

The charity had a high profile in Northern Ireland because of its late founder Gordon Wilson, whose daughter Marie, a nurse, was killed in the bombing. He said shortly after the bombing that he bore no grudge against the bombers and later went on to become a senator in the Republic of Ireland.

Una McKernan, deputy chief executive of Nicva, said that the organisations in the scheme had agreed to close it to future accruals in 2009, meaning that organisations would not continue to incur future debts. She said the charities had also agreed a longer period to pay off their debts.

"Some organisations in the scheme have been badly affected," she said. "But it was a surprise that the Spirit of Enniskillen had to close."

She said the scheme was a "last man standing" scheme – if an organisation closes, the other charities in the scheme would have to take on its debts. But she said the debts of the Spirit of Enniskillen would be a relatively small amount when split between all of the other members.

She said that other charities in the scheme could continue to meet their debts.

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