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Shankill bomb victims' daughter Michelle Williamson 'has long given up hope of getting justice and now just wants the truth'

By Suzanne Breen

Published 02/02/2016

Michelle Williamson talks to the media outside the High Court in 2009
Michelle Williamson talks to the media outside the High Court in 2009
Shankill bomb atrocity
Desmond Frizzell was killed in the Shankill Road bombing
Shankill bomb atrocity
Thomas Begley, the IRA bomber who blew himself up in the Shankill bomb in 1993.
Shankill bomb atrocity
Rescuers at the Shankill bombing
The devastation on the Shankill Road in the aftermath of the 1993 IRA bombing of Frizzell’s fish shop

Michelle Williamson's parents wanted her to go shopping with them on the Shankill, but she was too busy on that sunny autumn afternoon.

"They were heading out to buy curtains for their new home," Michelle recalls. "I waved them goodbye and my mum shouted, 'Cheerio, we'll see you later.' The next time I saw my father he was lying dead in hospital with his head bandaged and blood seeping onto the pillow.

"I held his hand and kissed him on the cheek. I never even got to say goodbye to my mother. She was in such a bad state that relatives thought it would be too distressing for me to see her in the morgue.

"That's something that I'll regret for the rest of my life. I shouldn't have listened to them. I should have gone in and told her how much I loved her."

George Williamson (63) and his wife Gillian (47) were blown to bits when buying fish for their tea in Frizzell's shop on October 23, 1993. The premises was below an office in which UDA members would meet on Saturdays.

Michelle (49) says her parents' deaths have destroyed her: "I was a normal, carefree young woman before they were murdered but now my life is overwhelmed with pain and grief.

"I have recurring nightmares where I wake up asking, 'Did this actually happen to me? Were mummy and daddy really killed?' I still struggle to believe that this terrible thing took place."

Michelle says thoughts of her parents never leave her: "I am older now than my mother was when she was killed.

"I remember as a child how she taught me to sew and knit, and all the love she gave me. I remember my father scrimping and saving and sacrificing so much for me. Mum and dad gave me everything when they were alive. There's nothing they wouldn't do for me and I will leave no stone unturned for them now."

She describes her parents as just "normal people doing normal things on a Saturday afternoon". "Nobody had a right to take away their lives," she says. "Mother's Day and Father's Day are the hardest days of the year for me. They're absolute agony."

Michelle and brother Ian Williamson in 1998
Michelle and brother Ian Williamson in 1998
Michelle's parents George and Gillian

Michelle has moved from her Lisburn home to live in a quiet rural location to try to find some peace.

"Nobody knows who I am here. Nobody asks me about the bomb. I can live quietly with my cats and dogs and other wee animals," she says.

Every time she tries to move on with her life, there's "another slap in the face" with a new revelation about the bombers or the bombing.

"I believed that there was some justice when Sean Kelly, the bomber who survived, received nine life sentences," she says. "But the Good Friday Agreement led to his early release. He walked free after seven years. He served less than one year in jail for each life he took."

Michelle has long given up hope of seeing others who were involved in the bombing, or those who sent them out, behind bars. "The only thing that I am pursuing now is the truth," she says. "I would love to never have to give another media interview again but I will keep speaking out for my parents for as long as I have to."

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