Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Feile to be commended for staging of powerful Shankill bomb play and giving voice to victims from 'the other side'

Collette Hart who plays Gina Murray
Collette Hart who plays Gina Murray

The Shankill bombing was one of the most infamous IRA atrocities. Which makes the staging of a play at the Feile in west Belfast about one of the victims all the more remarkable. What If is a searing exposition of the pain and grief felt by Gina Murray and her son Gary at the death of her daughter Leanne in the fish shop explosion.

Those bereaved by the Troubles often must feel that the agony they have undergone is not recognised by wider society, which, bluntly speaking, is grateful it was not themselves who lost loved ones.

Victims have campaigned endlessly for recognition of their plight and for redress, either through justice by the jailing of culprits or, at the least, information on why their relatives died.

What this play does is bring the general down to the very specific, the horror visited on one family. Their experience was not unique, but it was contained to a large extent within the walls of their own home and among their closest relatives and friends.

Now it is laid bare on the stage through a combination of wonderful writing and insightful acting. The result was that everyone in the audience - Catholic, Protestant or those of different or no faiths - were able to share in Gina's agony.

The play proved the point that the grief of the bereaved, whatever the circumstances and whoever was responsible, is similar.

They have a shared experience, and what they saw on stage mirrored what they felt and still feel in the very core of their being. Feile has sometimes courted controversy through the acts it stages. But it is to be commended on this occasion for giving a voice to people who would not normally be heard on that side of our political divide.

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In a wider context, the play has opened some people's minds to the reality of the life of the bereaved.

It may not solve this contentious legacy issue, but it should be required viewing for anyone concerned about the plight of this group of people.

Belfast Telegraph

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