Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 December 2014

Gerry Anderson: The day IRA blew up my poor mum

DJ Anderson recalls mother’s miraculous escape after family home bombed

BBC Radio Ulster presenter Gerry Anderson
BBC Radio Ulster presenter Gerry Anderson

BBC Radio Ulster’s Gerry Anderson has revealed how his mother miraculously escaped an IRA bomb which blitzed his childhood home.

The veteran broadcaster recalled how the bomb ripped through his family’s home close the Bogside area of ‘Stroke city’ while his mother Kate was inside.

And he explained how the men responsible later apologised for what they’d done.

In his new book, ‘Heads’, Gerry described how a grocery store below the family’s Sackville Street home was targeted.

“A ‘freedom fighter’ strolled in and placed a large bomb on the counter top.

“The place was duly evacuated but nobody thought to inform my mother who was home alone upstairs, busily applying Brasso to her door knobs on the third-floor bedrooms,” he wrote.

“The bomb duly exploded, ripping great holes in the ceilings. She emerged dirty and unhurt. A miracle.”

Gerry’s parents remained in the house after the attack, even though the floors were at a 15 degree angle.

After the blast, a member of the IRA said sorry for what had happened.

“A mild-mannered, albeit inarticulate young man came to call at our family ruin, offering apologies on the ground that the ‘lads’ had thought the premises above the shop were unoccupied,” he wrote.

He also told of his anger towards them and added: “There’s ace intelligence-gathering for you, I thought. There were a number of obvious clues that could lead to the conclusion that the premises were occupied.”

Gerry also admitted that during his childhood he used to enjoy watching Orange bands — until he was swiped with a sword.

“I used to enjoy listening to them, especially the bands that featured aggressive percussion. I was particularly fond of the Lambeg drum and still am today,” he wrote.

The main problem, he explained, was caused by “the unruly and often less-than-sober camp-followers” and added that the marchers were often flanked by men who cleared the way with unsheathed swords.

“I remember once straying a little too far from the kerb to get a better look at a particular drumming band when my short-trousered legs felt the brunt of the flatside of a flashing sabre. I can feel the cold steel yet. I was physically hurt, embarrassed and felt deeply humiliated,” he admitted.

The experience made him decide to never again watch an Orange band.

“In future, whenever there was an Orange parade, I would go to the movies,” he said.

A Day In The Life, will be published by Gill & Macmillan on Friday, September 19.

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