Shankill vigil ‘contrasts sharply to antagonistic IRA memorial’

A dignified walk to remember Shankill bombing victims was in stark contrast to the “antagonistic” unveiling of a tribute to one of the bombers, an Ulster Unionist MLA has claimed.

Roy Beggs said the vigil held on the Shankill Road on Tuesday evening, commemorating 20 years since the IRA atrocity, was “reflective” and a fitting mark of respect.

Over 1,000 people joined survivors and relatives of the nine innocent civilians who died on October 23, 1993, when a device being carried by Thomas Begley exploded in a fish shop.

Tuesday’s commemoration – which included a religious service and wreath laying – also remembered the victims of four other bomb attacks in the Shankill area during the Troubles.

Mr Beggs said: “It is a fact that many residents of Carrickfergus and Newtownabbey have migrated from north Belfast and the greater Shankill area during the course of the Troubles and are now constituents of mine in East Antrim.

“On the 20th anniversary of the Shankill bomb at Frizzell’s fish shop I commend those who organised Tuesday evening’s dignified, reflective walk revisiting the five bomb sites in which 25 civilians were killed and hundreds injured.

“This walk stands in great contrast with those who decided to erect an antagonistic plaque in the Ardoyne area to remember the bomber who inflicted so much pain and was himself killed by his own bomb.”

Mr Beggs added: “Thomas Begley’s family are of course entitled to remember their family member, but I am aware of the pain that has been caused and the adverse effect on community relations by the erection of a plaque in a public place rather than the family simply remembering their relative by his graveside.

“There are local concerns at the actions of republicans. It is important that we all remember the dreadful events of the past and reflect upon them and collectively strive to ensure that those dark days never return and blight this, or future generations.”

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