Hundreds attend Shankill bombing commemoration
Local people joined bereaved and injured to remember nine who died in blast 20 years ago
Crowds gather on the Shankill Road for the service in the West Kirk Presbyterian Church. Photograph: Aidan O’Reilly/Pacemaker Press International
Several hundred people have attended a moving ceremony in memory of nine people who died in the IRA Shankill bombing 20 years ago yesterday.
The West Kirk Presbyterian Church, just yards from where the bomb exploded in Frizzell’s fish shop on a busy Saturday lunchtime on October 23rd, 1993, was full, with hundreds more gathered outside for the commemoration.
Local people joined relatives of those who were killed and injured in the explosion, which also killed one of the two IRA bombers, Thomas Begley. The second IRA bomber Seán Kelly was injured but survived.
Local schoolchildren came out of the church to lay wreaths in the Shankill Memorial Park close to the site of the bombing. The names of the dead, which included two girls aged 13 and seven, were read out while a period of silence was observed. Local shops closed during the ceremony.
Presbyterian minister Rev David Clawson, who led the service, said: “When you see 40 little people up there singing, there is great potential for the future”.
Lost three relatives
After the service Charlie Butler, who lost three relatives in the attack – his niece Evelyn Baird, her partner Michael Morrison and their seven-year-old daughter Michelle – said the ceremony meant a lot to him and his family. He was one of the first at the scene of the bombing and helped take the dead, dying and injured from the rubble only to discover that members of his family had been killed.
“This time 20 years ago I felt so low. Today I didn’t. Today we had people around us that loved us and cared for us; they showed up the support that I think we still need,” he said.
Yesterday’s service was held three days after republicans unveiled a plaque to Thomas Begley in Ardoyne which stated he died on “active service”.