A victim of the Shankill bomb has revealed that she was about to lodge a legal challenge when plans for a peace centre at the Maze were shelved.
Michelle Williamson, who lost her parents George and Gillian in the 1993 atrocity, had prepared court papers for a judicial review of the decision to develop a conflict transformation centre on the site of the former prison.
Victims’ campaigners, along with several organisations representing former security force members, had become increasingly outspoken in their opposition to the retention of several original prison buildings – including the former hospital wing and an H-block.
“The lawyers were standing by and the papers were going to be handed in next week, then I was on the internet and saw the story of Peter Robinson’s U-turn,” she told the News Letter.
“So the case has been put on hold at the moment but as far as I am concerned, and the solicitors are concerned, there could still be grounds for a court case. I welcome the decision of Peter Robinson to stall the Maze, but I would like to know what he means [by stalling it]. Are we going to be facing this issue again when the dust settles down?”
Ten people, including IRA bomber Thomas Begley, were killed when a device being carried into a Shankill fish shop exploded prematurely.
Begley’s accomplice Sean Kelly survived and was sentenced to life imprisonment. He was released after seven years under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.
Ms Williamson said her court action, if it goes ahead, will challenge the lack of input from victims while many ex-prisoner groups were extensively consulted.
“It wasn’t a decision I took lightly, but based on the way we have been treated as victims in Northern Ireland, and the Maze is such an important issue to myself and many other innocent victims, I decided I would put my name forward.”
Ms Williamson added: “All they [republicans] want to do is glorify their dead, but we need to remember why they were there in the first place.
“These were blood-thirsty killers but victims, like myself, still mourn the loss of their loved ones. Is there a memorial in America to the hijackers of 9/11, or for [Oklahoma bomber] Timothy McVeigh?
“It’s so important to me that the Maze is demolished.”