Belfast Telegraph

Shankill relative urges dad of bomber: help call off 'tribute'

By Rebecca Black

A woman who lost both parents in the Shankill bomb has called for a commemoration for their killer to be called off by his parents.

Michelle Williamson yesterday visited Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly's office to drop off a letter to bomber Thomas Begley's parents.

She has written to Billy and Sadie Begley to plead with them to call off the dedication of a controversial plaque to their son.

IRA terrorist Begley died with nine others when he and Sean Kelly blew up Frizzells fish shop on the Shankill Road in 1993.

Michelle Williamson's parents George and Gillian were among the nine killed.

The IRA later said they had been aiming to kill loyalist paramilitaries who they believed were holding a meeting in a room above the shop.

Speaking out for the first time on the Begley plaque, she blasted it as "a sick and cruel insult to the memory of our loved ones".

Yesterday she handed a letter to a member of Mr Kelly's staff at his office on the Antrim Road in north Belfast for Begley's parents.

We never wanted a plaque for our son, say the parents

In it, she makes a personal appeal to them to publicly call for Sunday's dedication of a plaque to be stopped.

Making reference to a Belfast Telegraph article last week in which Begley's elderly father Billy said he did not want a plaque commemorating his son, she wrote: "You said recently in the press you wanted to remember him in a quiet and dignified way, this plaque is neither, it is a sick and cruel insult to the memory of our loved ones. Please don't inflict more pain on us by allowing this to happen.

"I don't blame you or your family in any way for your son's actions and I believed you when you said recently you would stopped him if you could have ... but you can stop this public event ... I am sure if you called publicly to Sinn Fein and your local community to respect your wishes and privacy by cancelling this commemoration I am sure they would listen to you.

"The IRA wrecked both our families that day, don't let them hurt us again."

Ms Williamson said it had been a very hard letter to write, admitting she wrote several different versions before she was satisfied. She said it would mean "so much" to her and others.

She staged a brief protest along with victims campaigner Willie Frazer outside Mr Kelly's office before handing her letter into one of his workers.

Ms William-son said she was shocked by the hatred and vitriol directed to her by passers-by, including shouts of "murderer".

Mr Frazer told the Belfast Telegraph that, while he was "used to abuse", he was angry that Ms Will- iamson had been subjected to it.

The plaque to Thomas Begley is due to be unveiled in Ardoyne on Sunday.

A memorial service to the nine people who died in the Shankill bomb has been planned for West Kirk Presbyterian church next Wednesday. At 1.06pm, school children will lay flowers at the Shankill Bomb memorial lamp and at the plaque marking the actual bomb site.

Belfast Telegraph


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