Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness has said the IRA-inflicted deaths in the Shankill bombing “cannot be defended” in a statement to mark the 20th anniversary of the atrocity.
In an article published in An Poblacht magazine yesterday, Mr McGuinness described the mass murder as a “terrible event” and a legacy all republicans “shared with sincere regret and sorrow”.
He said: “Today the relatives of those killed 20 years ago by the IRA in the Shankill bomb gather to remember their loved ones. My thoughts and sympathy are with them and the wider community in the Shankill as they rightly come together to mark that terrible event in our past.
“The fact is this tragedy was caused by republicans. The reality of republicans’ responsibility for it; the grief and heartache created for the bereaved; and, their understandable feelings about what happened must be acknowledged.”
The Deputy First Minister said he had, along with other republican leaders, dedicated themselves to peace to ensure the likes of the Shankill bomb would never happen again.
“The result of that IRA action 20 years ago cannot be defended.
“However, I do not, as a republican leader, seek to hypocritically distance myself from the loss of so many innocent lives on the Shankill and the scores of people injured.
“At the weekend, Sean Kelly made what I believe was a genuine attempt to apologise for the terrible human loss created on that day.
“I endorse that apology and the apology made to all innocent victims by the IRA many years ago.”
Mr McGuinness added: “It was an awful event which happened against a context of intense conflict.”