Belfast Telegraph

Shankill bomber tribute snubbed by his own family

I’d have chained son to his bed to stop deadly attack, says Shankill bomber’s dad

The aftermath of the Shankill bomb in October 1993
The aftermath of the Shankill bomb in October 1993
Thomas Begley
Posters in shop windows.
Billy Begley
Lauren Harte

By Lauren Harte

The father of IRA bomber Thomas Begley has said he would have chained his son to his bed if he had known he was about to carry out a devastating attack on Belfast's Shankill Road.

Billy Begley also said his family have been praying for his son's nine victims this week.

He was speaking as anger erupted over a planned tribute to his son this weekend.

Thomas Begley died and nine others, all Protestants, were killed when the bomb he was carrying exploded prematurely at Frizzell's fish shop on the Shankill Road on October 23, 1993.

Begley and a second bomber, Sean Kelly, wearing white coats and posing as delivery drivers, carried the bomb into the shop.

Begley (22) was later buried with full IRA honours in the republican plot in Milltown Cemetery, and his coffin was carried by former Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams. A year later Begley was commemorated by a parade through Ardoyne.

The 25th anniversary of his death will be marked at a Milltown commemoration tomorrow afternoon at 1pm.

Begley's elderly father, Billy, said the event has been organised by his son's comrades and friends. The family have previously publicly stated their opposition to the IRA bombing and their son's role in the attack.

Speaking at his home in north Belfast yesterday, Mr Begley said the family have been marking the anniversary privately this week.

"We have nothing to do with this event on Saturday and prefer to remember our son in our own private way. This week we have just been going to Mass and saying prayers for him. We also prayed for all the innocent people who were killed on that day," he said.

"We are very sorry for what happened - it was all wrong. Our family is not like that and if we had known what Thomas was going to do that day, we would have chained him to his bed."

Sinn Fein has confirmed that while tomorrow's commemoration has been organised by Begley's friends and not the party, some of its members will be represented at the event.

It will take place just four days after hundreds of people from both main traditions in Northern Ireland marked the 25th anniversary of the atrocity.

The mother of one teenager murdered in the bombing said the planned commemoration of her killer's death is "trampling on the graves" of all those who died.

One of the bomb victims was Gina Murray's daughter Leanne, who had celebrated her 13th birthday just four weeks before.

Mrs Murray (67) says this weekend's event to honour Begley is distressing for the families of the victims and will be hurting them all over again.

A wreath laid by Girls Model Head Girl Caitlin Herron hangs to the side of what was Frizzell's fish shop after a service at West Kirk Presbyterian Church in Belfast to mark the 25th anniversary of the IRA bombing of a fish shop on Shankill Road. Liam McBurney/PA Wire
A wreath laid by Girls Model Head Girl Caitlin Herron hangs to the side of what was Frizzell's fish shop after a service at West Kirk Presbyterian Church in Belfast to mark the 25th anniversary of the IRA bombing of a fish shop on Shankill Road. Liam McBurney/PA Wire
People inside West Kirk Presbyterian Church in Belfast for a service to mark the 25th anniversary of the IRA bombing of a fish shop on Shankill Road. Liam McBurney/PA Wire
DUP leader Arlene Foster and DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds (centre) in West Kirk Presbyterian Church in Belfast for a service to mark the 25th anniversary of the IRA bombing of a fish shop on Shankill Road. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday October 23, 2018. See PA story ULSTER Shankill. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
People listening to a service outside the West Kirk Presbyterian Church in Belfast to mark the 25th anniversary of the IRA bombing of a fish shop on Shankill Road. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday October 23, 2018. See PA story ULSTER Shankill. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Alan Lewis - Photopress Belfast 23/10/2018 Photograph by Justin Kernoghan Mairia Cahill attends today's service - An emotional day for Michelle Williamson, who lost her parents in the bombing. A service to mark the 25th anniversary of the Shankill bombing. Nine people and one of the IRA bombers were killed in the 1993 attack. More than 50 people were injured. The Shankill bombing happened at Frizzell's fish shop on 23 October 1993. Two IRA men, Thomas Begley and Sean Kelly, posed as fishmongers and carried the bomb into the shop where shoppers were queuing for food. DUP leader Arlene Foster and her deputy Nigel Dodds are among those attending the service at West Kirk Presbyterian Church. Also present are representatives of the Ballymurphy families whose relatives were shot dead in west Belfast in 1971.
Pacemaker Press 23/10/2018 Gary Murray (brother of Leanne), who was killed in the 1993 bombing. A Memorial service takes place at West Kirk Presbyterian Church on the Shankill Road on Tuesday to mark the 25th Anniversary of Shankill bomb. Nine Protestant civilians and an IRA bomber, Thomas Begley, were killed in the attack in Belfast on 23 October 1993. Pic Colm Lenaghan /Pacemaker Press
George Lenahan greets DUP leader Arlene Foster and DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds outside West Kirk Presbyterian Church in Belfast for a service to mark the 25th anniversary of the IRA bombing of a fish shop on Shankill Road. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday October 23, 2018. See PA story ULSTER Shankill. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
People gather outside West Kirk Presbyterian Church in Belfast for a service to mark the 25th anniversary of the IRA bombing of a fish shop on Shankill Road. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday October 23, 2018. See PA story ULSTER Shankill. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Charlie Butler (left) and Michelle Williamson (right) in West Kirk Presbyterian Church in Belfast for a service to mark the 25th anniversary of the IRA bombing of a fish shop on Shankill Road. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday October 23, 2018. See PA story ULSTER Shankill. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Dessie Williams handing out orders of service outside West Kirk Presbyterian Church in Belfast for a service to mark the 25th anniversary of the IRA bombing of a fish shop on Shankill Road. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday October 23, 2018. See PA story ULSTER Shankill. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
(left to right) Alan McBride, Tim McGarry and Zoe McBride in West Kirk Presbyterian Church in Belfast for a service to mark the 25th anniversary of the IRA bombing of a fish shop on Shankill Road. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday October 23, 2018. See PA story ULSTER Shankill. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Gary Murray enters West Kirk Presbyterian Church in Belfast for a service to mark the 25th anniversary of the IRA bombing of a fish shop on Shankill Road. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday October 23, 2018. See PA story ULSTER Shankill. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
(left to right) Michelle Williamson, Alfie McCrory and Willie Frazer outside West Kirk Presbyterian Church in Belfast for a service to mark the 25th anniversary of the IRA bombing of a fish shop on Shankill Road. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday October 23, 2018. See PA story ULSTER Shankill. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Moke Devlin outside West Kirk Presbyterian Church in Belfast for a service to mark the 25th anniversary of the IRA bombing of a fish shop on Shankill Road. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday October 23, 2018. See PA story ULSTER Shankill. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Gina Murray (left) enters West Kirk Presbyterian Church in Belfast for a service to mark the 25th anniversary of the IRA bombing of a fish shop on Shankill Road. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday October 23, 2018. See PA story ULSTER Shankill. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
People listening to a service outside the West Kirk Presbyterian Church in Belfast to mark the 25th anniversary of the IRA bombing of a fish shop on Shankill Road. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday October 23, 2018. See PA story ULSTER Shankill. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
People listening to a service outside the West Kirk Presbyterian Church in Belfast to mark the 25th anniversary of the IRA bombing of a fish shop on Shankill Road. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday October 23, 2018. See PA story ULSTER Shankill. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
People listening to a service outside the West Kirk Presbyterian Church in Belfast to mark the 25th anniversary of the IRA bombing of a fish shop on Shankill Road. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday October 23, 2018. See PA story ULSTER Shankill. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
A member of the Sea Cadets rings a bell nine times at a memorial where the bomb went off, during a service in Belfast to mark the 25th anniversary of the IRA bombing of a fish shop on Shankill Road. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday October 23, 2018. See PA story ULSTER Shankill. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Representatives from Belfast Model School for Girls lay a wreath at a memorial during a service at West Kirk Presbyterian Church in Belfast to mark the 25th anniversary of the IRA bombing of a fish shop on Shankill Road. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday October 23, 2018. See PA story ULSTER Shankill. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Representatives from Harmony Primary School lay a wreath at a memorial during a service at West Kirk Presbyterian Church in Belfast to mark the 25th anniversary of the IRA bombing of a fish shop on Shankill Road. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday October 23, 2018. See PA story ULSTER Shankill. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
DUP leader Arlene Foster (left) shaking hands with Alliance Party leader Naomi Long after a service at West Kirk Presbyterian Church in Belfast for a service to mark the 25th anniversary of the IRA bombing of a fish shop on Shankill Road. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday October 23, 2018. See PA story ULSTER Shankill. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Representatives from Belfast Model School for Girls (right) and Harmony Primary School (left) lay a wreath at a memorial during a service at West Kirk Presbyterian Church in Belfast to mark the 25th anniversary of the IRA bombing of a fish shop on Shankill Road. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday October 23, 2018. See PA story ULSTER Shankill. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
DUP leader Arlene Foster is embraced by Michelle Williams after a service at West Kirk Presbyterian Church in Belfast for a service to mark the 25th anniversary of the IRA bombing of a fish shop on Shankill Road. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday October 23, 2018. See PA story ULSTER Shankill. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Caitlin Herron of Girls Model school lays a wreath to the side of what was Frizzell's fish shop during a service at West Kirk Presbyterian Church in Belfast to mark the 25th anniversary of the IRA bombing of a fish shop on Shankill Road. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday October 23, 2018. See PA story ULSTER Shankill. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Jim Allister leader of the TUV before a service at West Kirk Presbyterian Church in Belfast for a service to mark the 25th anniversary of the IRA bombing of a fish shop on Shankill Road. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday October 23, 2018. See PA story ULSTER Shankill. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Jude Whyte (left) whose mother, Peggy Whyte, was killed by a UVF bomb in 1984 and Alan McBride who wife Sharon McBride was killed in the Shankill bomb, after a service at West Kirk Presbyterian Church in Belfast for a service to mark the 25th anniversary of the IRA bombing of a fish shop on Shankill Road. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday October 23, 2018. See PA story ULSTER Shankill. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Zoe McBride, daughter of Shankill bomb victim Sharon McBride after a service at West Kirk Presbyterian Church in Belfast for a service to mark the 25th anniversary of the IRA bombing of a fish shop on Shankill Road. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday October 23, 2018. See PA story ULSTER Shankill. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

She said: "I'm not happy about this event at all - it only adds to the distress of this already very difficult week.

"Those behind it have no thought for this week's commemorations by the families of those who lost their lives.

"We were expecting something to take place on the actual anniversary of the bomb but at least they had the decency not to do anything then.

"They are always hurting us and now they are doing it all over again. We've had no break this week at all and this just tops it off.

"It's as though they are trampling on the graves of all those who were killed," she added.

Nationalist and unionist politicians were among those in attendance at Tuesday's anniversary service in West Kirk Presbyterian Church.

"The cross-community aspect of Tuesday's service was really wonderful and shows that people are trying to move on, but Sinn Fein are stopping them," Mrs Murray added.

Victims campaigner Willie Frazer has hit out at the planned commemoration for Begley, calling it "beyond grotesque".

He said: "Republicans call for equality and respect while they commemorate and glorify Provo terrorists, idolising and normalising actions of absolute depravity.

"Victims who speak out and condemn such commemorations are accused of living in the past, they're told to move on.

"Republicans need [to be] called out on their hypocrisy, their lack of respect and remorse needs [to be] highlighted and scrutinised."

North Belfast DUP MLA William Humphrey added: "Yet again Republicans seek to glorify a terrorist and terrorism. Let's be clear, there was nothing glorious or brave in what Thomas Begley did. Begley died planting the Shankill bomb, a device which murdered nine innocent people."

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