Families of Shankill Road bomb victims unveil memorial on anniversary of attack

The families of those who lost their lives in the Shankill Road bombing in Belfast have gathered to unveil a new memorial to mark the 30th anniversary of the IRA atrocity.

The memorial on the site of the former Frizzell's fishmonger shows a clock with its hands stopped at 1.06pm, the time the bomb went off in 1993.

Relatives then attended a memorial service at West Kirk Presbyterian Church where they were told “chaos” had visited the community 30 years ago.

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson and former SDLP west Belfast MP Joe Hendron were among those who attended the church service, while several hundred people lined the Shankill Road.

Nine people, including two young girls, were killed in the bombing of Frizzell's Fish Market on October 23, 1993, and dozens were injured.

One of the IRA bombers was also killed in the blast.

The victims were fishmonger owner John Frizzell, 63, his daughter Sharon McBride, 29, Michael Morrison, 27, his partner Evelyn Baird, 27, their daughter Michelle, seven, George Williamson, 63, Gillian Williamson, 49, Wilma. McKee, 38, and Leanne Murray, 13.

Garry Murray, whose sister Leanne was 13 when she was killed, said the bombing had devastated his family.

He said: “It is difficult. There are mixed feelings. It's very heartfelt.

“I always think about that day. Every day, every minute, he never leaves me.

“He destroyed my family. It destroyed my mom, it destroyed myself for years.

“It's something I don't think we'll ever get over.

“My sister Leanne Murray was 13 when she was killed in the Shankill Road bombing.

“Days like today are very important. I want the whole community to stand together and support us.”

Welcoming the congregation to the church, Rev David Clawson said it was an opportunity for everyone to stand in solidarity to remember the tragic events of 30 years ago.

He said: “As this bomb went off without warning on that sunny Saturday afternoon it visited this community.

“Nine innocent people going about their daily business lost their lives and many others were injured.

“So we stop in the middle of our lives to take a moment to remember.”

He said the lives of all those affected were never the same after the tragedy.

Some survivors of the blast and members of the emergency services who attended the scene were also at the memorial service, where he received a speech from the moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, Reverend Sam Mawhinney.

Children from three schools, Harmony Primary School, Springfield Primary and Belfast Girls' Model, left the church to lay floral tributes at the memorial lamp in the Shankill Memorial Park next to the West Kirk.

The students were all grandchildren of Mr Morrison and his partner Ms Baird, who were both killed in the blast, and nieces and nephews of their daughter Michelle, who was also killed.

As the bell tolled nine times to remember the victims, a wreath was laid at the site of the new memorial just as the bomb went off.

I hope these services provide comfort to every victim's family, even 30 years later

fan David Clawson

Rev Clawson said: “I hope these services bring comfort to every family of the victims, even after 30 years, as we stand together, with the whole community embracing them, both inside and outside the church.

“In today's liturgy, we stood with them in their sorrow, looking to the Lord, who shares our tears and leads us to hope, especially in times of sorrow, through the resurrection of Jesus.

“It was our prayer, as we gathered and assembled for worship, that the grace and peace of Christ would be a soothing balm to the souls of the families, to our Shankill community and to the countless thousands affected by the Troubles.”

Rev Mawhinney, said, “For those most affected by this horrific tragedy 30 years ago today, I'm sure it feels like it was only yesterday, and the pain and grief they feel for their loved ones, is still deep.

“I consider it a special privilege to have been invited to today's memorial service and to have had the opportunity to sympathize with the family members, relatives and friends of those killed and injured.”

In addition to the unveiling and dedication of a new monument on the site of Frizzell's Fish Market, nine trees were planted in the garden on the Conway Street side of West Kirk Presbyterian Church, as a living memorial.

Each has an individual plaque and tribute from the families.

The week following the Shankill Road attack in 1993 saw further devastation when eight people were killed by loyalists in Greysteel, Co Londonderry, in what was seen as a reprisal attack.

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said the pain on the Shankill Road still resonates today.

He said: “This was a shocking and indiscriminate attack that crossed a busy shopping street on a quiet Saturday afternoon.

“Three decades later, the community in the greater Shankill region remains united in a determination that those murdered that day will never be forgotten.

“The Shankill bombing was one of the worst atrocities in our troubled past and it sparked retaliation, creating more innocent victims in its wake.

“The new Shankill memorial is one of many to bear witness to the suffering inflicted on our country by terrorism.”