Belfast Telegraph

Shankill bomb: 'I think about the bomb every day of my life. I smell it, I see it and I hear it'

By Rebecca Black

Two decades may have passed since the Shankill bomb, but for the families who lost loved ones the pain is as intense today as it was then.

The mother of one of the youngest victims, Leanne Murray (13) said her daughter died simply for a love of whelks.

Gina had been shopping with her teenage daughter when she left her to get her favourite treat while going to the nearby fruit shop.

When the bomb exploded, she described saying "Leanne" out loud in the shop, before running to what remained of Frizzell's and screaming for her daughter.

"No-one had seen her. There were people lying in the street covered in blood. My little girl was underneath all that rubble.

"We started clawing at it with our bare hands. I was screaming her name. But it was no use. My little daughter was dead – just for a tub of whelks.

"I think about it (the bomb) every day of my life. I close my eyes and I can see it and hear it and smell it."

Michael Morrison died alongside his wife, Evelyn Baird, and their seven-year-old daughter Michelle. The couple's two other children, six-week-old Lauren and Darren, who was nine, were left orphans.

Losing her parents as a baby, Lauren has never been able to call anyone mum or dad.

"You see pictures and photos of people carrying stretchers and I think to myself, 'Who's under that sheet? Is it my mummy or my daddy or Michelle?'

"I was only a baby so I have never known any different. But still, to think that all my friends have mummys and daddys, I don't. It's just different.

"Maybe if I had not have been well or if I'd cried for longer or we had have kept them back half an hour longer what would be different."

Marcus Morrison, Michael's brother, said he could still remember the day it happened.

"I lost him when I was only 23. He lives on though; reminders of him are everywhere. You just need to look at family and his mannerisms are there in people," he said.

"But it's so important that we don't go back to those days. The doom and gloom of recent weeks and months, are they signs we are going back? I hope not. I'm a dad of three and a grandad of one. I don't want our past to be their future."

The bomb may have ended the Frizzell family business, but it also ended Alan McBride's life as he knew it.

Now one of the best known advocates for victims in Northern Ireland, in 1993 Alan was working as a butcher in a shop on the Shankill Road close to Frizzell's.

His wife of seven years, Sharon, worked in the health service, but still helped out one Saturday a month at her family's fish shop.

Alan recalls dropping Sharon to work before taking their two-year-old daughter for a bike ride on the unseasonably sunny day.

"When I arrived back, a friend came round to say there had been a bomb on the Shankill and asked if I wanted to go down," he said.

"I knew that it was bad, I suppose for a while I was living in hope that Sharon had got out, but she hadn't."

He described going to the hospital, fervently hoping against hope that his wife and father-in-law had somehow managed to survive, likening the experience to the "waiting room of hell".

Michelle Williamson will always remember October 23, 1993, as the day she became an orphan.

She slept on the floor between her mother and father's coffins during their wake, to have one last night with them before they were buried.

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.

"I had the TV on in the background, I was putting curtains up when I heard a newsflash on the television that spoke of an explosion in Belfast.

"I turned the TV off and started looking out the window, something told me something wasn't right because any other time mum and dad went to the Shankill they were home earlier, they never stayed all day. As time went on I knew in my heart something had happened.

"The day my mum and dad came home in their coffins, that night I spent on a duvet in between the two of them.

"I'll never forgive and forget what the IRA did to me."

Devoted mother Wilma McKee took the full force of the explosion at Frizzell's and died from her injuries the following day.

She had been out shopping with her husband and their two sons, having just received the all-clear from doctors following a lengthy battle with cancer.

Her family had been waiting for the 38-year-old in their car across the street from Frizzell's.

The children, Brian (14) and Craig (11), watched in horror as the explosion tore through the building as their mother passed.

Mrs McKee's uncle, John Scott, said Brian and Craig never spoke of what they had seen.

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

Mr Scott said the entire family circle would be attending the memorial service today.

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