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Service marks IRA's Canary Wharf outrage 20 years on

By Rebecca Black

Published 10/02/2016

Jonathan Ganesh releases a dove at the memorial service at South Quay station attended by survivors and emergency services
Jonathan Ganesh releases a dove at the memorial service at South Quay station attended by survivors and emergency services
The memorial service at South Quay station attended by survivors and emergency services
The memorial service at South Quay station attended by survivors and emergency services
The aftermath of the 1996 Docklands bombing that ended IRA ceasefire

The brother of a man killed in the IRA's attack on Canary Wharf in London has told how he struggles to forgive the bombers.

Ihsan Bashir (50) was speaking during a multi-faith service at South Quay station to remember his sibling Inam and John Jeffries, who died when the huge bomb was detonated in the capital's Docklands on February 9, 1996.

The Docklands Victims Association organised the service for the victims of the attack and of all other acts of terrorism across the globe.

Representatives of the emergency services and politicians - including East Belfast MP Gavin Robinson - attended and observed a minute's silence before 20 white doves were released as a symbol of the desire for peace.

Some of the hundreds who were injured in the blast, along with survivors of the 7/7 attacks and the 1983 Harrods bomb, also attended the 20th anniversary event.

Mr Bashir's mother Hamida thanked the community for remembering Inam.

"I'm so touched that after 20 years the community has never forgotten my poor son and his friend John. It breaks my heart that terrorists still kill innocent children," she said.

Ihsan told those gathered it was vital that Londoners stood together against terrorists of all hues.

"This is so important now considering all of the turmoil we are in at the moment," he said.

"It is a very good opportunity for all religions to take a unified stand.

"It's a defiance of terrorists - you can't stop us.

"A bomb doesn't discriminate if you are Muslim, Christian or Jew. It is very important as Londoners, as British subjects, that we don't divide ourselves and don't let terrorists divide us. We need to stand against terrorists."

Mr Bashir spoke to his brother on the phone minutes before the explosion and went to the scene to look for him when news of the bomb spread.

He did not find out that his brother and Mr Jeffries, known as JJ, had perished until the following afternoon.

Mr Bashir said: "The bomb was right next to our shop - it had been parked there since 4.30pm. Inam would have been putting the alarm on and JJ would have been outside by the shutters.

"I am still bitter. You can never come to terms with it. It is hard to forgive what they did."

President of the Docklands Victims Association and bomb survivor Jonathan Ganesh said it was hard to believe it had been 20 years since the outrage.

"It is a credit to the lasting memory of Inam and John that we are all gathered here today," Mr Ganesh added.

"As I look around me, I see people of all colours, all religious faiths, all political creeds, who have united together and are making a universal statement that we condemn all acts of global terrorism at home and around the world."

Mr Robinson said the service had been "poignant".

"The contrast between those releasing 20 white doves today as a symbol of peace and those who committed this act of terrorism could not be more stark," the MP said.

"I wanted to stand in solidarity today with these victims from another part of our United Kingdom who suffered in the same way as so many people did in Northern Ireland.

"The campaign for compensation will continue, and the refusal of Tony Blair to come before the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee to give evidence once again stands as a disgrace."

Belfast Telegraph

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