Belfast Telegraph

I can't forgive suicide bomber who tried to kill my daughter

By Donna Deeney

The father of a Londonderry student who survived the Manchester Arena bomb has said he cannot forgive the suicide bomber who almost killed his daughter.

Niamh Woods, a member of staff at the venue, was counting bar takings from the Ariana Grande concert when Salman Abedi detonated his lethal device.

The horrors witnessed by Niamh are still keeping her awake at night, but for now she is safe at home in Derry with dad Sean and mum Bernie.

And even while dealing with the trauma, Niamh is determined to go back to Manchester and finish her degree in the city she loves.

The actions of suicide bomber Adedi have not only scarred Niamh, but enraged her father.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Mr Woods said: “When you see the images of all those children and adults who died, they are all named now, there is no way you could sit back and say I forgive that man for killing 21 people.

“I could understand maybe the process of him going from a young innocent child to a man, and becoming conditioned into how he ended up, but he did wrong and that’s the end of it.

“He wasn’t born bad. However, it is unfortunate he turned out to be a very nasty person. He won’t be along with Allah and the angels, that’s for sure.”

It has been difficult listening to their daughter recall the dreadful sights and sounds of the aftermath of the bombing.

After trying for an agonising few hours to get in contact with Niamh last Monday, Mr Woods finally reached her on her flatmate’s phone. Following an all too brief conversation, the last words Niamh said were: “Daddy, please get me home.”

And that’s exactly what the couple did.

As they drove home back from the airport in Belfast, the realisation of how close they came to losing her hit Mr Woods so hard that he broke down in tears and had to pull the car into the side of the road.

He explained: “Niamh was in bits when we got her from the airport but listening to her as we drove back to Derry I broke out in a sweat and took the shakes listening to her.

“She told us that night she needed to go to the bathroom, but because it didn’t take too long to count the takings she decided to wait, because there was a long queue for the bathrooms.

“She would have had to pass the foyer where the bomber was to get to the bathroom.

“She was only in the room counting the takings less than five minutes when the bomb went off.

“That decision not to go to the toilet obviously played a massive part on her being here with us today. Me and her mother just burst into massive tears in the car.

“The magnitude of what she said just hit us, but it wasn’t until the next day that it all hit her.

“She sobbed the entire day and the first two nights after she was home; we had around two or three hours sleep.

“She was up all night with the images of what she witnessed, and what she described to us was quiet horrific.

“One thing that scared them (arena staff) was that after they got outside their managers ushered them back inside, and Niamh told us she was terrified because the armed police were screaming at them to get out.

“The thing was they didn’t know where to go to be safe, but she is safe now.

“Her mother has told her she doesn’t have to go back to Manchester, and the one great positive thing was Niamh saying: ‘I am going back, I love Manchester, I am doing my degree’. So, it hasn’t deterred her.”

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