Belfast Telegraph

Tory slams memorial plan for Provo bombers as ‘grotesque’

By Tom Mosely and Amanda Poole

An English MP has condemned “grotesque” plans to lay a memorial in memory of two IRA bombers.

On November 15, 1991, Patricia Black and Frankie Ryan were killed in St Albans when a bomb they were carrying detonated early.

One civilian was injured by the bomb that exploded in the doorway of the old Barclays Bank, next to the Alban Arena.

Minutes later hundreds of people would have passed the scene, after leaving a concert by the Blues and Royals military band, who were playing in the venue at the time.

Police told a newspaper, the Herts Advertiser, that the family of one of the two IRA members planned to commemorate the 30th anniversary of their deaths by laying a wreath at the scene this weekend.

A spokeswoman said: “At this stage we are currently making numerous checks as to who is organising this and what their plans are.

“Until the exact circumstances are confirmed, it would be inappropriate for us to comment any further.”

Patricia Black (18), from Belfast, was a ‘volunteer’ in the Belfast brigade of the Provisional IRA.

Frankie Ryan (25) was brought up in Essex by Irish parents and became involved in the republican movement from 1985. In 2007 a memorial to the pair was erected at the Sally Gardens Centre in Belfast.

Last night, Peter Lilley, the former Tory minister who was the city’s MP at the time, said it was totally inappropriate to commemorate “an evil act which was attempting to kill indiscriminately”.

He told the Belfast Telegraph: “It strikes me as grotesque.”

Recalling the incident, Mr Lilley, who is now the Conservative MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, said: “I was in my constituency at the time and I arrived back just after the bomb had gone off.

“It was merciful that more people were not killed and it didn’t go off as intended, which was to kill the citizens of St Albans and military bandsmen.

“I can understand that friends and relatives might be very sad to have lost their children blowing themselves up — maybe one hopes for the good of their immortal souls, that they suddenly realised what they were doing was wrong and a tremor of guilt caused them to set off the bomb.”

A spokesman for St Albans City and District Council, which owns land where the bomb exploded in 1991, said it was liaising with the police and could not provide any further comment at this time.

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