Officials scour bomber’s school records, says council’s Irish chief
Wexford woman directs Trafford Council to examine Salman Abedi’s education
Theresa Grant, the Wexford woman running Trafford Council, is searching for any kind of trigger in Salman Abedi’s education. Photograph: Simon Carswell
Manchester’s Trafford Council is examining the education background of the Manchester Arena bomber to see how he might have been radicalised, according to the Irish woman who runs the local authority.
Theresa Grant, chief executive of the council, said that Salman Abedi (22), the UK-born man of Libyan descent named by police as the suicide bomber who killed 22 people at a concert on Monday night, was a student at a school and post-secondary college in the Trafford area.
“That is sad from my perspective,” said the Wexford native who has lived in Manchester for the past 21 years and whose borough covers 230,000 of the population of the Greater Manchester Area.
“I would have hoped had we ever had the opportunity to intervene in his life in any way that we could have found that opportunity through his education and obviously we are looking into all of that now to see was there anything there, was there a trigger there?
“Is there anything we could have done as a public sector to have intervened?”
Ms Grant said the UK government’s decision to raise the country’s terror alert for the first time in 10 years, from severe to critical – meaning that another possible attack was imminent – brought security precautions to an unprecedented level during her two decades working in Manchester’s public service.
“Nobody is taking chances at the moment, nor should they. I have never seen this level, even with the incidents that happened in London. We were on critical alert but we never had this level of lockdown,” she said.
Speaking of the defiant response of Mancunians to Monday’s attack, Ms Grant recalled the IRA bombing in 1996 during her first month in the city.
“I expected negative reverberations for me as an Irish person but I experienced none of that. I have experienced nothing negative and never have to this day,” she said.
“What I did experience was resilience, tenacity and people with real community spirit.”
She spoke warmly of the generosity of the city’s residents witnessed on Monday with apartment owners welcoming stranded and distressed concert-goers into their homes.
“You really see the humanity in Mancunians. We have seen that in the press: so much goodwill, so much giving – that is Manchester,” she said.
“That is why I made it my home. It felt a little bit like a home away from home but just a little bit bigger because people stop to talk to you on the street. You do get to know people here. It is like a big town in Ireland and that’s why I liked it so much.”
Ms Grant is responsible for some of Manchester’s most iconic landmarks, including Old Trafford, home to football club Manchester United, and the ITV studios and the set of Coronation Street.
She feels that Manchester is going to be “scarred” by this week’s attack. City officials thought that the 1996 bombing was their darkest hour; it wasn’t.
“What is much worse is that there were so many young people and it was targeted because there were young children,” she said.
“The city will take a long time to get over that. I think it will leave a scar that will take some healing.”