North Belfast man Stephen Dobbin cannot drive down the Shankill Road without remembering the immediate aftermath of the Shankill bomb.
Around 1.06pm on October 23, 1993, the civil servant, then a Boys Brigade leader, had been driving a minibus carrying two seven-a-side football teams from the Shankill to a football pitch in south Belfast. They had just passed Frizzell’s fish shop when the bomb exploded.
“I just remember the bang and then the dust and the debris blowing right across the road,” he said. “I gave the minibus over to the other Boys Brigade leader who was with me and lifted the first aid kits.
“I remember the chaos. Everyone was in total shock. There were clouds and dust all over the place. Then it went very, very quiet – and then people started to cry out.
“Then I started to try and treat people as best I could. I suppose I reacted automatically. It was gut instinct. I was a trained first aider. There was nothing I could have done for the people inside the shop.”
Mr Dobbin said he first treated two elderly ladies who had been walking past the shop that busy Saturday. And later an elderly gentleman and young woman. All were “in shock”.
“But in particular I remember digging out one wee baby in a pram,” he said.
“That is still prominent in my mind. There was debris on top of the pram.
“I remember the fire brigade were pulling people out of the shop, but they were all dead. Then I started to help.”
At the time of the atrocity Mr Dobbin was working with the Department of the Environment.
He said he went back to his car, which he had parked on the Shankill, to get jackets and helmets to go inside the shop,
“The firemen were getting people’s bodies out when I went in,” he said.
“It was an horrendous day. The last body was taken out around 8pm I think. I remember getting home after 9pm that night.”
He said press coverage of the bomb the following day brought the magnitude of what had happened home to him.
“It was very upsetting to see it,” he said. “I know it is the 20th anniversary and it brings back memories for the families, but it also brings back a lot of memories for the people who tried to help in the immediate aftermath. I went to all nine funerals and I also go to the remembrance service every year.”
He said although the events of October 23, 1993 “no longer play on my mind after all these years”, every time he drives up the Shankill Road his “gaze is always drawn to where Frizzell’s fish shop used to stand.
“There is a credit union there now”.