‘It may not have broken London, but it did break some of us’

7/7 commemorations: 10 years after bombings many families are still picking up pieces

A family grieve as they stand next to a memorial to victims of the bus bombing near Tavistock Square in London on Tuesday. Photograph: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

A family grieve as they stand next to a memorial to victims of the bus bombing near Tavistock Square in London on Tuesday. Photograph: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

 

Lisa Cassidy will walk up the aisle in a London church in a fortnight’s time to marry Clare man Noel Cooney, watched proudly by her father, Seán and mother, Veronica. However, one person will be missing: her brother, Ciarán.

The 22-year-old Cassidy had left his home shortly after 8am on July 7th, 2005 at the usual time to catch a Piccadilly Line train for work in Chancery Lane, only to die in an explosion – one of three unleashed by terrorists within an hour, killing 52, injuring hundreds more.

“He will be sorely missed,” said his Cavan-born father Seán, a retired postman, who still carries the anguish from a day that was marked throughout London in a series of commemorations, or, more often, quiet remembrance.

“It’s hard to describe it really. If someone died of natural causes you could accept it, but when somebody is brutally killed and murdered it is a different ball-game,” said the 67-year-old, “It has been a hard day.”

Joining other bereaved families, the Cassidys travelled to St Paul’s Cathedral in the morning, on to the Guildhall in the City of London at lunch and then to Hyde Park for a series of commemorations to mark the 10th anniversary of the 7/7 bombing.

In St Paul’s, the Church of England Bishop of London Rt Rev Richard Chartres said: “London is an astonishing world-in-a-city, but this was a terrible crime which robbed us of beloved sons and daughters, partners and friends.”

Reflections

London Fire BrigadeRussell Square

One young Londoner, Aaron Grant-Booker, said lives had been destroyed by the four explosions and “the flame of hope faltered for what seemed like an eternal moment. For many people, nothing was the same again.

“Yet everything was the same because the good which is in all Londoners and the countless visitors whom they host at any given moment is not erased by hatred or threat but – rather – is fostered to produce a harvest of hope for each generation,” he went on.

The name of each person who died that morning was then read: a litany of grief that took 2½ minutes to complete, accompanied by tears. In the end, flower-petals softly fell from the cathedral’s Whispering Gallery, just as they did a decade ago at the first memorial service.

Often, the language in the aftermath of terrorist outrages speaks of the indomitable human spirit, stoically surviving the worst that life can throw, where ordinary people come together to overcome the odds.

But it is not always so.

Lost innocence

Thirteen people died in Tavistock Square when the bomb carried by 18-year-old Hasib Hussain exploded at 9.47am onboard the No 30 bus, driven by George Psaradakis, who was one of hundreds to stand quietly today.

Each of the bombings were filled with horrors, yet Tavistock holds a particular heartache since some of those who died had been evacuated from nearby Underground stations and were ringing home to say they were safe when Hussain’s bomb erupted.

Inside the square’s gardens, a candle-flame, protected by a glass jar, shivered in the breeze, just yards away from a cherry tree planted decades before to mark the horrors of the Hiroshima bombing 70 years ago.

Shortly after midday, once a small service had been completed, the chairs were collected, the candles quenched, while the few bouquets were quietly taken to be placed on a nearby pavement, alongside dozens of others.

The 10th anniversary took place against the backdrop of this month’s brutality on a Tunisian beach, but, also, with the knowledge that the horrors unleashed in London will happen again. Since 2005, 50 plots have been prevented, said MI5’s chief, Andrew Parker.

Intelligence services “simply can’t find and stop every terrorist plot”, he said – even though 2,500 people have been arrested in the years since – especially in a world where terrorism can emerge without warning in even the safest of places.

For the Cassidys, the upcoming wedding celebrations will bring joy, mixed with tears: “It never goes away, it never goes away, but we have not got a monopoly on grief. So many other families suffered,” said Seán.