Belfast Telegraph

Woman who lost her parents in Shankill bomb asks to meet IRA

By Suazanne Breen

A woman whose parents were killed in the Shankill bomb has appealed to the IRA to meet her and hand over the stolen document which allegedly shows that police could have prevented the atrocity.

Michelle Williamson said she was devastated by a newspaper report that the north Belfast IRA commander behind the attack had tipped off his Special Branch handlers about the bomb but they had failed to act.

The document alleging possible collusion is said to have been among files stolen by the Provisionals during the Castlereagh break-in. The Police Ombudsman is investigating the claims.

Ms Williamson, whose parents George and Gillian died in the 1993 blast, last night told the Belfast Telegraph: "These claims of collusion are driving me out of my mind. To think that my parents' lives could have been saved brings pain beyond belief.

"To wait years for the outcome of the Police Ombudsman's investigation would be unbearable. It is not fair for myself, or any of the victims, to have these allegations hanging over us for that length of time. So I am asking the IRA to meet me and hand over the document. They could put us all out of our misery now.

"I am prepared to go to Ardoyne, or wherever they want, to get answers. I will not be reporting them to the police, they can be absolutely assured everything will be confidential. I am not interested in prosecutions. I have long given up on the hope of justice. I just now want the truth."

Ms Williamson said she had been distraught when she saw the claims in the Irish News. "When I read the newspaper report, I ran into the bathroom and was physically sick," she said.

"I feel as if my head is going to explode. If this document is genuine and the IRA, or anyone who was in its ranks, wants to expose collusion, then I will help them do it.

"They have nothing to lose by meeting me and everything to gain. It would make their case against the authorities very powerful if they had a victim like me publicly pointing the finger at the security services as well. My only agenda in asking the IRA to meet me is that I am desperately seeking closure."

Ms Williamson also called for a public inquiry into the Shankill bombing. Last week, it was alleged that the IRA's north Belfast commander, an agent code-named 'AA', had passed on information to his handlers which potentially could have prevented the attack.

It was claimed that the Provisionals discovered the agent's identity in files stolen during the 2002 Castlereagh break-in. A family member of one of the Shankill victims has lodged a complaint with the Police Ombudsman. Nine civilians, including two schoolgirls, plus Thomas Begley, one of the two IRA bombers, were killed in the blast.

Ms Williamson said she had instructed a solicitor to lodge a complaint with the Police Ombudsman. She said that other Shankill victims were doing the same.

Traditional Unionist Voice leader Jim Allister met some of the victims at Stormont yesterday. He said he has written to the Secretary of State, Theresa Villiers, to ask if any of the information stolen in the Castlereagh break-in is capable of yielding allegations that the security forces had prior knowledge of the Shankill bombing.

"It is well within the malevolence and agenda of the republican movement to circulate misinformation. It is vital that the Secretary of State gives clarity on this matter and does so as quickly as possible," Mr Allister said.

Belfast Telegraph


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