Shankill bomb: 'I'd have killed bomber I rescued if I had realised just who he was'
Now and then there'd be a call for quiet as a cry for help was heard
A rescuer who helped Shankill Road bomber Sean Kelly from the carnage of the fish shop explosion which claimed the lives of nine innocent civilians 20 years ago has said he would have killed him had he known who he was.
Alfie McCrory (below) thought Kelly was a victim of the no-warning IRA bomb, not a victim-maker.
He admits the surgical gloves on Kelly's hands should have set alarm bells ringing as he clawed desperately through rubble on that awful Saturday afternoon.
He didn't think for more than a second about why the man he brought from Frizzell's fish shop had his hands covered.
The only thing on his mind was rushing him as fast as he could into an ambulance.
It wasn't until he went to the Mater Hospital to donate blood that the penny dropped.
Alfie was only a short distance away when he heard a muffled explosion as he walked to a pharmacy opposite the fish shop.
"It was pure pandemonium. We never thought about any dangers, we were just hell-bent on getting the injured out.
"There were people lying everywhere, inside and outside the shop. Some were moaning and some were obviously dead. One man had virtually no face left.
"One policeman was hit on the head by falling bricks but he just wiped the blood away and went on trying to save people.
"The fire service brought in a sniffer dog and heat-seeking equipment and told us to get out because we could be sitting on top of injured people.
"Every so often there would be calls for quiet as someone heard a cry for help. The silence was eerie with hundreds in the area and yet you could have heard a mouse scrambling in the wreckage."
Police broadcast appeals for people to go to the Mater Hospital to give blood.
"It was there that I saw the name Sean Kelly on a list of the injured," says Alfie. "I knew there were no Sean Kellys on the Shankill and I then realised that he must have been a bomber and he must have been one of those helped into an ambulance.
"I remembered that after I lifted him his hands fell by his side and he had on surgical gloves."
Alfie says that if Kelly's identity had been known as he went to his aid that he or others would have killed him "for what he had done to our people".
That Saturday evening, Alfie went to his mother's house to clean up: "And I went into a bedroom and cried my eyes out."
He remembers carrying the coffin of Leanne Murray (13).
"I later discovered that as I was bringing her down Silvio Street Gerry Adams was carrying the coffin of the bomber Thomas Begley in the Ardoyne. That was very upsetting."
Alfie took part in a protest last Sunday to coincide with the unveiling of a plaque in Begley's memory in the Ardoyne where Sean Kelly gave an address.
In the aftermath, as a reporter covering the blast, I heard ordinary people talking of getting guns and going to the Falls Road.
The threats were not idle, but wiser counsel prevailed.
But within a week loyalist paramilitaries took their own retaliation and killed 14 people, including eight in the 'trick-or-treat' massacre at Greysteel.