North remembers Bloody Friday bombing that killed nine 40 year ago

Sat, Jul 21, 2012, 01:00

POLITICIANS AND religious leaders have been remembering the Bloody Friday bombings carried out in Belfast 40 years ago on Friday, July 21st, 1972.

A succession of more than 20 timed Provisional IRA bombs exploded around the city. In just over an hour, nine people were killed and 130 people were injured, including 77 women and children. Six people were killed by a car bomb at Oxford Street bus station, and three died after a bomb went off at a shopping centre on the Cavehill Road.

The IRA claimed it had sent sufficient warnings of the attacks and accused the security forces of deliberately ignoring some of them. The security forces and emergency services were stretched to the limit by the number of bombs and bomb warnings, which caused widespread chaos and panic.

The city’s Royal Victoria Hospital was inundated with victims badly injured by flying glass and debris from the powerful blasts.

Robin Hogg, a local, has spoken out for the first time of his memories of the day. He was shopping with a friend, 14-year-old Stephen Parker, on the Cavehill Road when one of the bombs went off. Mr Hogg escaped unhurt but Stephen was killed. He said: “It’s something that I do not think I really have ever got over. I vividly remember that day, the shock of it.”

On Thursday, DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds tabled a House of Commons motion to commemorate the 40th anniversary. He said Bloody Friday was “one of the most horrific days in our history”, adding the attack was aimed “not at any military or security target but at the ordinary people of Belfast”. In the motion, he said “justice demands that those in the republican movement and Sinn Féin leadership with information should even now come forward to provide truth and closure for the victims”.

Afterwards, he said “there has been a great deal of talk about reconciliation amongst some republicans but an important first step must be that those who were involved in this terrible atrocity might come clean and admit their role”.

Those involved should step forward with information, and explain why ordinary people were put at risk, said Mr Dodds.

Acknowledging Northern Ireland could now look forward to a better future, Mr Dodds said “we must not forget the horrors which were visited upon Belfast and other parts of Northern Ireland by those who were intent on wreaking havoc on our society”.

The Rev Kenneth Lindsay, president of the Methodist Church in Ireland, said many victims still bore the scars of the atrocity.