Shankill bomb victims remembered 25 years on

Floral tributes are laid at the site of the Shankill bomb to mark the 25th anniversary. Credit: Pacemaker

Poignant acts of remembrance are marking the 25th anniversary of the Shankill bomb, which killed nine people when it detonated in Frizzell’s fish shop on 23 October 1993.

The IRA blast injured more than 50 people and also killed one of the bombers.

West Kirk Presbyterian was filled to capacity as a service took place on Tuesday afternoon, while many more gathered outside, as the normally-busy Shankill Road fell silent.

The exact time the bomb exploded - 1.05pm - was marked midway through the service.

School children laid floral tributes at the site where Frizzell's fish shop once stood, a short distance from the church, while flowers were also laid at a nearby memorial garden.

Just ahead of the anniversary, a 300-strong procession made its way along Belfast’s Shankill Road on Monday evening.

The victims of a number of other atrocities along the route were remembered.

Among those who took part was Jackie Nicholl, whose 17-month-old son Colin was killed in a bomb attack where the Balmoral Showrooms once stood – close to Shankill Leisure Centre.

Mr Nicholl laid a wreath in memory of his little boy and described the procession as “very poignant”.

He also spoke of his gratitude to the local people who came together in the aftermath of the blast on 11 December 1971 to dig through the rubble to rescue survivors.

“I will always be grateful to the people of the Shankill,” he said.

Tuesday is the 25th anniversary of what has become known as the Shankill bomb, but there was another four lethal attacks on this road.

Jackie Redpath, Shankill community worker

Respects were also paid at the site of the Bayardo Bar, where five people died in an IRA bomb attack on 13 August 1975.

The procession also paused at the site which used to be the Four Step Inn, where two men were killed in an explosion on 29 September 1971, and at the Mountainview Tavern, where five people died in a gun and bomb attack on 5 April 1975.

A church service at West Kirk Presbyterian on Tuesday, including a united choir from the local primary schools, will mark the 25th anniversary of the Shankill bomb.

A bell will toll nine times for each of the victims.

Meanwhile, the husband of one of the victims has used the anniversary to appeal to Northern Ireland’s politicians to get back to Stormont.

Alan McBride lost both his wife Sharon and father-in-law Desmond in the blast.

The Agreement didn’t have much to say on victims, but it did say that ‘the achievement of a peaceful and just society would be the true memorial to the victims of violence’.

Alan McBride

He reflected that, five years after the bombing, politicians came together to sign the historic Good Friday peace agreement.

Writing on the website EamonnMallie.com, he suggested the current generation of politicians lacked the same leadership qualities.

Northern Ireland has been without a properly functioning government since January 2017.

Mr McBride said the political leaders of 1998 “risked their own interests, their parties and potentially their lives for the sake of putting an end to conflict”.

He added: “Where are those kind of leaders today?”

Poppy crosses were laid at the site of each atrocity on the Shankill Road to remember the victims. Credit: Presseye