Belfast Telegraph

Shankill bomb: Families attend services in memory of those who lost lives in IRA atrocity

By CHRIS KILPATRICK

The families of nine people killed in one of Northern Ireland's worst terrorist atrocities say horrific memories of the day will never leave them.

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the IRA bombing of Frizzell's fish shop on Belfast's Shankill Road.

Nine people, including two children, were killed and 57 were injured in the attack, carried out on a busy Saturday afternoon.

A memorial service has taken place at West Kirk Presbyterian Church. The service was attended by relatives of the victims and those injured. Members of the emergency services who attended the scene will also take part.

Children from the schools attended by Michelle Baird (7) and Leanne Murray (13), who were killed, laid wreaths at the time the bomb detonated.

Flowers were laid at the site of the massacre and below an old Belfast gas lamp which has been kept lit for the past two decades in memory of those killed.

Among the relatives attending the memorial service were those of mother-of-two Wilma McKee.

The 38-year-old was blown across the street by the blast, as her two young sons and husband looked on in horror.

The bomb detonated less than 24 hours after she had been given the all-clear from cancer.

Mrs McKee's husband Brian tried in vain to dig his wife from the rubble. Her uncle, John Scott, said Mrs McKee's sons Brian and Craig never spoke of what they saw on October 23, 1993.

"They saw her coming out of the fruit shop and Brian said 'there's your mum now'," said Mr Scott.

"Just as she walked to the fish shop next door she took the full force of the blast. They saw their mother blown to pieces. I don't know how they've coped."

The huge blast tore through the bustling fish shop, killing its owner John Frizzell (63) and his daughter Sharon McBride (29).

Mrs McBride's husband Alan had dropped her to work that morning before taking their two-year-old daughter for a bike ride.

He rushed to the scene when told there had been an explosion in the area.

Mr McBride said the family never recovered from their horrific loss. "The aftermath was horrendous for the whole Frizzell family. Up to then we would have all met up every Sunday for lunch but we haven't done that since the bomb," he said.

Michael Morrison and his partner Evelyn Baird (both 27) died along with their daughter Michelle.

Michelle's sister Lauren, who was just months old at the time of the atrocity, said: "All my friends have mummies and daddies and I don't. I have never been able to call anybody mummy or daddy."

Leanne Murray died after briefly leaving her mother's side to buy some whelks from Frizzell's.

George (63) and Gillian (49) Williamson had been walking past Frizzell's on their way to buy curtains for the new house they had just moved into the day before.

Nine white rose bushes were planted at Shankill Memorial Garden to commemorate the victims.

One of the two IRA bombers, Thomas Begley, also died in the blast. Begley and his accomplice Sean Kelly had walked into the packed shop dressed as delivery men in white coats.

The bomb, which was on an 11-second fuse, detonated prematurely.

Victims' families voiced their disgust at the unveiling of a plaque in memory of Begley in Ardoyne last Sunday.

The main address was given by fellow bomber Kelly who was pulled from the rubble.

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

At the time of the massacre the IRA said the targets were UDA leaders it wrongly believed were meeting above the fish shop.

A full week of remembrance events are ongoing in the Shankill area. They include an exhibition at Shankill Methodist Church, close to the scene of the bomb.

For the first time all the cards and floral tributes in response to the bombing are on public display.

Last night, hundreds joined a walk of remembrance which took in the sites of five lethal, no-warning blasts which killed 25 people in the area during the Troubles.

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