Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 25 October 2014

Boston blasts revived pain of Omagh, Assembly told

An MLA whose home town was targeted by terrorist bombers has described how the horror came flooding back after hearing of the Boston attacks.

Ross Hussey said his mind instantly turned to the August afternoon in 1998 when a Real IRA blast devastated the centre of Omagh, killing 29 people.

"I almost froze," he said. "I immediately thought of Omagh on August 15 1998, when my town was visited by evil people.

"That fear came back into me, that we could be seeing this revisited on us again."

He was speaking at the Assembly, where the parties united in condemnation of Monday's twin bomb attacks.

Mr Hussey also referred to the 1988 attack in Lisburn, when a bomb exploded at the end of a charity fun run. Six soldiers were killed and 11 bystanders injured, including a two-year-old child and 80-year-old man.

"Terrorists copy each other, and I hope that the American President's vow that these people will be caught will be carried through," he added.

SDLP MLA Alex Attwood – who ran the Boston Marathon twice – referred to the city's strong relationship with Belfast and Londonderry.

"All of us who have been to Boston will know that the city is at once American, European and Irish," he said.

"Consequently, the images on our screens, which showed what happened in Boston, seem all the more chilling and telling."

Alliance MLA Stephen Farry referred to his own links with the city. "Boston has a certain poignancy for us all," he said.

"Many of us have been there. I was there only last November in support of the Derry-Boston-Donegal link through Atlantic Bridge. I have no doubt that I walked past the site of the bomb on many occasions."

The DUP's Jimmy Spratt said his sympathies were with those caught up in the blasts.

"From no matter what quarter terrorism comes, it is wrong and cannot be condoned in any circumstance or situation," he said.

"Our thoughts are with the injured and with the heroic people who are dealing with them."

Sinn Fein's Raymond McCartney said there were many links between Boston and Derry.

"Indeed, many former mayors, even some who served in the House, have visited Boston on behalf of the city," he said.

"I know the current mayor, Kevin Campbell, has been in contact with his counterpart in Boston to send condolences on behalf of the people of Derry and, no doubt, the people of Ireland."

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams condemned the attacks and extended his sympathy to the victims.

Meanwhile, the organisers of the Belfast City Marathon have said they will be reviewing security at this year's event.

"We take into account many contingencies including the type of incident which happened at Boston Marathon. As organisers we cannot become complacent and will need to review those plans to see what else may be necessary during a meeting over the next few days," a statement said.

Quotes

In a joint statement, Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness said they were shocked and appalled by the attack. "We are deeply saddened by the tragic events that have unfolded in Boston during what is one of the world's most popular marathons. Our thoughts and prayers are with the friends and families of all those killed and injured in this horrific turn of events."

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