Town shocked as bomb is linked to one of its own


REVULSION at his intended actions but sympathy for Ed O'Brien's family were the emotions expressed by people in Gorey yesterday.

They were shocked by the bombing and the tragedy endured by the O'Briens. Most of all they were shocked that Ed O'Brien was an active IRA member involved in the planing of a London explosion.

Apart from what happened to him on Sunday night, there was nothing extraordinary about Ed O'Brien's life. When describing him yesterday, local people said "he was just ordinary. There was nothing to set him apart from anybody else his age".

He is remembered for his involvement with the local GAA club, St Enda's, and the soccer club. For a short period, he was a boxer and he was also an altar boy.

Ed O'Brien attended the local school in Gorey but did not sit his Leaving Certificate. He left school and began working, including a stint as a general bakery hand at Stafford's Bakery. "He was a young fellow that passed through here. He wasn't in any way special or in any way awkward," Ms Una Stafford told The Irish Times yesterday.

Bakery employees were still in shock. "I can't describe the sense of shock on the bakery floor this morning. Nobody wants anything to do with that sort of carry on," said Ms Stafford.

One neighbour said last night that Ed O'Brien would have had republican sympathies. "He was one of the lads. After a few pints you might hear him singing `Ooh Ahh Up The RA'. But it was nothing stronger than that. There is not a lot of republican activity in Gorey and certainly no close links with the IRA."

Ed O'Brien left Ireland about two years ago. He spent some time in Germany and worked on the building sites in London. At the time of his death, his family believed he was working in Scotland.

They last saw him at Christmas when he celebrated his 21st birthday with family and friends. During some of that time he stayed with his grandmother whose home was one of the houses visited by gardai on Tuesday when news of his links with the bomb emerged.

Since just before lunchtime on Tuesday, reporters, many from the British tabloids, have put his family under siege by camping at their doorstep. The first time their door bell rang yesterday was just after 6 a.m., a family member said.

According to Father Walter Forde, the family were besieged. "They have had television cameras stuck in their living room window. People are going around with cheque books looking for stories. This is adding tremendous pressure to the family at this time.