29 January 2006

Bomb widower's Bloody Sunday talk


Alan McBride's wife and father-in-law died in the attack

A man who lost his wife in the Shankill Road IRA bombing has delivered the annual Bloody Sunday Memorial Lecture in Derry's Guildhall.

Alan McBride was the first person from a unionist background to do so.

His wife Sharon, and father-in-law John Frizell, were among the nine people killed in the explosion in the fish shop in October 1993.

He said he thought the time "was now right" to accept the invitation and tell his story to people in the city.

"I've been on this journey now for 13 years, since Sharon was killed," he said.

"I've come through a whole gamut of different experiences, emotions and feelings, and yet through it all the only thing that has really kept me going is my faith in the peace process and the possibility that one day we will have a country that is better than it was."

Mr McBride said that while the bombers - Sean Kelly and Thomas Begley - were "totally responsible" for the carnage, to blame them, or people like them, for the entire Troubles "doesn't fit".

"At the end of the day we had a sectarian climate in this country for some time and I think that if people had been born elsewhere they may not have committed the atrocities that they committed," he said.

Nine Protestants died in the 1993 IRA attack

Detailing his background, Mr McBride talked of being brought up within a loyalist housing estate, and the 'normality' of children getting involved in riots after school, collecting wood for the annual bonfire and going to school with paramilitary slogans painted on schoolbags.

He said he had invested heavily in the peace proces, "actively campaigning for a yes vote in the Good Friday Agreement".

"However, I feel badly let down by politicians on both sides. It is almost eight years after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement and we still haven't got an assembly - this is nothing short of shameful," he said.

"This needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency without each side blaming the other in a process that goes round and round but delivers nothing."

In the attack the two IRA men left a bomb in the Shankill Road fish shop.

Begley was also killed in the bombing - one of the most notorious atrocities of the Troubles.

Kelly was given nine life sentences but was released under the Good Friday Agreement in 2000.

The Northern Ireland secretary then ordered his re-arrest in June 2005 amid suspicions by security chiefs he had again become involved in terrorism.

He was released on the eve of the of the IRA's ordering an end to its armed campaign one month later.

On 30 January 1972, 13 Catholics were killed when soldiers of a British paratroop regiment opened fire during a civil rights march in Derry.

The day became known as Bloody Sunday.

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